Susan W
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Re: 2015 Saving Monarch Butterflies By Raising Caterpillars

Just a note on the various milkweeds. I have 2 varieties at the market, swamp and tropical (annual), and sometimes a butterfly weed. Most people with small urban yards don't want the common as it does spread by rhizomes and can be problematic. I have the swamp aka rose in my yard, and still hasn't bloomed, perhaps in too much shade. Next year! I suggest the tropical can go in pots or ground. I have a couple of butterfly weeds that have been in ground for a number of years, and no Monarch cats. I did hear from a native plant grower (from middle TN) that they don't like it as it is coarse and hairy. Last summer did have a couple of cats on the swamp, and as plants were young had to move starts of tropical and swamp around to get enough food.

The honey vine is a 2 edged sword. It can take over, try to strangle a shrub. I have a mess in the camelia (tall thick shrub). I'd pull it off, but may be taking cat food. But then cardinals and mockingbirds both go into the shrub foraging, and probably eating most anything that moves. A friend in Nashville has spotted a couple of Monarch adults laying eggs on his honey vine (sent me pics of one laying the egg). This person does extensive butterfly watches/counts, and came upon a patch of swamp milkweed covered with monarchs and other butterflies. Now he wants more in his yard! (as I am starting these from seed could be his source for plants!)

This season have many more milkweed plants, and have spotted perhaps 5 Monarchs! Sigh.
Have fun!
Susan

HoneyBerry
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Re: 2015 Saving Monarch Butterflies By Raising Caterpillars

Thanks. I am still naive about some things. I don't know what a Monarch cat is. I am going to google it and see what I get.
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Re: 2015 Saving Monarch Butterflies By Raising Caterpillars

Ohh! I get it. Caterpillars! Silly me.
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Re: 2015 Saving Monarch Butterflies By Raising Caterpillars

Haha yeah "cat" is a lot easier to type than "caterpillar" :wink:

I haven't taken an update photo since this morning, but all of the ones in J's in this picture turned into Chrysalises:
image.jpg
...tomorrow I'll post a photo of one chrysalis that I think has been infected by OE -- a protozoan parasite. This chrysalis will need to be isolated and the butterfly culled if examination under microscope after eclosing reveals infection.
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Re: 2015 Saving Monarch Butterflies By Raising Caterpillars

I found this from a few years back and wanted to share: Subject: Monarch butterflies' Territorial behavior
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Re: 2015 Saving Monarch Butterflies By Raising Caterpillars

image.jpg
...found another 5th instar on the Swamp Milkweed --> Swampy 2 =12
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Re: 2015 Saving Monarch Butterflies By Raising Caterpillars

First two eclosed very early this morning :D -- It's only been 7-8 days... I think the heatwave we had this week has been speeding them along.

Third chrysalis is transparent and black inside -- it will eclose sometime today for sure. (You can see it in the back.)
image.jpg
Also, our 12th caterpillar has achieved chrysalis stage without incident :-()
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Re: 2015 Saving Monarch Butterflies By Raising Caterpillars

The three butterflies -- two males and a female -- that eclosed yesterday were released this morning. I tried to put them on some flowering mints so they could have an energizing breakfast before taking off, but one of the males took flight from my finger perch as soon as I got my hand out of the butterfly cage.

The other two stayed ...
image.jpg
...and then I watered with a sprinkler over the area, completely forgetting about them :oops: -- so it was a complete surprise to see the female take off after I turned off the sprinkler :shock: "You were STILL here?"

Fourth one -- another male -- eclosed this morning (he's the one hanging onto his empty chrysalis shell in the photo). I think I'll release him with my DD's later this afternoon. He has been fluttering around, maybe because the female is gone but he scents her.
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Re: 2015 Saving Monarch Butterflies By Raising Caterpillars

Whew! Made it!

Swampy (#5) was still hanging under that shelf! :eek:

Just finished removing the chrysalis which was starting to change color, and carefully tying a thread to the stem and taping it to the ceiling of the butterfly cage. A little crooked, but should be OK for tomorrow's eclosure.

#6 is changing color, too. :-()
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Re: 2015 Saving Monarch Butterflies By Raising Caterpillars

Swampy (#5) and #6 eclosed were released today. If you look closely, you'll see that the black chrysalis to the right on the flap is taped on. That was Swampy. :()
image.jpg
Swampy took off right away -- maybe males tend to do that. The female stayed to have a snack when my DD put her on a flower. :D

Here's a couple of pics of the chrysalis that I suspect is infected by OE. I took it out of the community cage to put in isolation so it will not spread the OE spores to the others and contaminate the cage as well.
image.jpg
(I need to verify that the microscope still works so we can test the butterfly after eclosing. However, the black stain could also be a sign of tachnid maggot parasitization....)

Subject: Our 2010 Monarch Project is well underway
applestar wrote:As of today, 98 butterflies out of 108 chrysalises. 16 more Monarch caterpillars to go. (But we also have over a dozen more Black Swallowtail caterpillars, as well as another Silver Spotted Skipper caterpillar, 7 Woolybear caterpillars, and that Hornworm pupa.... :wink:)

Also today, another Monarch butterfly that appeared to be infected with OE spores eclosed today -- A chance to play with the microscope. 8)

Here are some photos:

Testing for OE. Small black dots are OE spores, larger shapes are the Monarchs scales from the abdomen. This one's definitely infected and has been euthanized in the freezer :cry:
Image Image

As long as I had the microscope on, I decided we could look at some other things:
A broken off Monarch butterfly wingtip at 200X:
Image Image Image

DDs released a Black Swallowtail and a Silver Spotted Skipper and got some of their wingscales on their hands. A chance to take samples and take a look:

Black Swallowtail wingscales. We were lucky to find a blue one under the 'scope:
Image Image

Silver Spotted Skipper wingscales. Very different and smaller compared to the others. We found a white scale, presumably from the white spot:
Image Image

I didn't take photos but the owner of the broken wingtip was still out in the garden even though he was released yesterday. I could see his wing had become more tattered where his wingtip had broken off and today, he was having trouble flying. I was able to catch him with bare hands while he sipped from the Goldenrods in full bloom over the sedum. Tucking him in a glassine envelope and putting him in the fridge to calm him, I retrieved his wingtip from the microscope samples (I'm SO glad I didn't tape it down), assembled the Crazy Glue and the rest of the "butterfly wing repair kit" and put back his wing tip as best I could. I set him back on a sunny Goldenrod plume after another chill in the fridge while the glue set. He seemed content to spread his wings and sip. I hope he makes it. :bouncey:
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LIcenter
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Re: 2015 Saving Monarch Butterflies By Raising Caterpillars

You are truly one of natures hero's applestar! Stand up and take a bow, while I continue to applaud this series.

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Re: 2015 Saving Monarch Butterflies By Raising Caterpillars

Thank you so much @Licenter :()

I want to report good news! #7 chrysalis suspected of being infected with OE eclosed without incident and the abdominal scales were clean of OE!

(The quality is really poor, even compared with the previous ones above, but this will do -- no sign of OE spores :-() )
image.jpg
(BOTTOM RIGHT: I pulled out the previous sample from 2010 and looked at it to refresh my memory of how the infected scales would look 8) )

So, #7 and #8 were released today. Both are females so I'm really glad I didn't have to euthanize.
image.jpg
...can you see? #7 had only one fully intact antenna -- her left antenna was stubby. I'm guessing that was the source of the black stains.... :?
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HoneyBerry
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Re: 2015 Saving Monarch Butterflies By Raising Caterpillars

Wow, I am truly amazed by all this butterfly stuff.
Cheers to Swampy and the rest of the newly hatched butterflies.
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Re: 2015 Saving Monarch Butterflies By Raising Caterpillars

Thank you @BirdLover :D

Guess what? The Monarch tags arrived today. :clap:

So older DD and I tagged #9 and #10 -- now officially logged as UPL 600 (male) and UPL 601 (female), respectively. :-()
MONARCHWATCH UPL 600 (male) and UPL 601 (female)
MONARCHWATCH UPL 600 (male) and UPL 601 (female)
image.jpg (50.58 KiB) Viewed 1190 times


I was bracing myself to do this, but it turned out to be "just like riding a bike" -- my hands caught and held the butterflies at optimum angle for DD to position the tags automatically. I pressed the tag onto the wing by holding the wings firmly together for count of 10. Funny how years and literally hundreds of butterfly tagging has imprinted my muscle memory.

...*thinking* part of the memory is another matter. Unless we find more, we will only be tagging four butterflies. Note to self to order the tags at the beginning of the season. :roll:
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Re: 2015 Saving Monarch Butterflies By Raising Caterpillars

I just love your little butterflies. If you could name one of your male butterflies after my bird Rosco, I would be thrilled. Rosco is a sweet bird. He would love to have a butterfly named after him.
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Re: 2015 Saving Monarch Butterflies By Raising Caterpillars

Released Monarch #11 tagged and logged as UPL602 male
-- no pictures since he took off without pausing to sip from the mint blossoms. He had eclosed during the night and was restless all day while it rained for the first time in ages outside.

I did see a tagged male flying around in the garden earlier and took a picture.
image.jpg
...@BirdLover, we could name UPL602 Rosco or the one that came back -- UPL600. :-()
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Re: 2015 Saving Monarch Butterflies By Raising Caterpillars

Test
I've been getting error messages so that's why this is a test.
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HoneyBerry
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Re: 2015 Saving Monarch Butterflies By Raising Caterpillars

Okay, Applestar, you choose which butterfly gets to be named Rosco. Nothing wrong with a little bit of fun.

There is a nice butterfly exhibit at the Science Center in Seattle WA, just north of where I am. They do what you do. They have a large variety of butterflies from around the world.
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Re: 2015 Saving Monarch Butterflies By Raising Caterpillars

Our last Monarch Butterfly -- #12 -- eclosed sometime during Thursday night.

This was Swampy II, brought inside as a 5th instar caterpillar and raised in isolation from the others in case of possible tachnid fly infestation due to belated rescue.

We tagged and logged him as UPL 603 (male) and released him late In the afternoon. He spent some time on a runty volunteer sunflower that grew under the birdfeeder before taking off, so DD2 and I were able to take several pictures. :D
image.jpg
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LIcenter
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Re: 2015 Saving Monarch Butterflies By Raising Caterpillars

Quick question applestar: In your zone, which is pretty close to mine; How late in the season can they lay their eggs to complete the full cycle?

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Re: 2015 Saving Monarch Butterflies By Raising Caterpillars

I want to say approximately 2 weeks, longer as temperatures get lower. But I can review my notes.

You saw in the beginning of this thread that my predicted time from chrysalis to eclosure was longer compared to actual. -- I'm thinking in addition to the higher temperature in the house due to energy saving thermostat settings, another possible reason is that my DD's (who are older now) had been staying up longer with lights on so their "daylight" hours were longer.
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Re: 2015 Saving Monarch Butterflies By Raising Caterpillars

I started cleaning out the front bed today, and found two cats! (this is why I asked) I moved them to the tropical s, cause the swamp weed was taking over the entire bed. Now that I know they will come, I have to re-think my entire plantings. Below is a pic of how thick things got.

I might have shown this before as I am on a few different garden sites, if that is the case, my apologies. The heart of the bed is all Incarnata, while the outside edges are Curassavica, and Tuberosa. Neither of the latter are shown just to give you an idea how thick things got in a very short period of time. This photo was actually taken in late July, early August.

Image

Susan W
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Re: 2015 Saving Monarch Butterflies By Raising Caterpillars

I C 2! I've noticed a couple of monarchs hanging close, getting up close and personal with some milkweeds. With older eyes, and older glasses, think there are eggs, and been too (lazy, forgetful) to carry out a hand lense. I figured if eggs, cat would soon be there! Anyway, just walked around and saw 2 cats, less than 1". I usually look for noshings on leaves for clues.

There are plenty of milkweeds, in small and large pots, both rose/swamp -incarnata and tropical -A. curassavica, spread about. There's butterfly weed out there, but I've never seen egg/cat activity on it. There must be 10 -12 tropicals still in 4" pots, left from not selling at market, and not up potting now and some in large containers.

If I enclose a couple in the pop-up hamper, will just put a whole (4") pot in there, and may need to cut of the lanky top.

I am thrilled for the monarchs, for me, and the other bottom line. This season pushing milkweeds for monarchs, and we haven't had any to speak of! Oopsies!
Have fun!
Susan

Susan W
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Re: 2015 Saving Monarch Butterflies By Raising Caterpillars

I took an AM walk about. There are more cats, and some eggs. A question for Apple on a couple. I checked a large container, has 4 tropicals in it, so real full. I saw at least 2 blackened (and dead) cats, shriveled. What's up with that? If something is attacking them, perhaps need to bring a few into a 'cage' aka hamper in sheltered outside. I don't have to pick leaves for them, just put in whole plants that are still in small pots.

A note on logistics for us, is noting that the flurry of activity may be September. A friend in Nashville, middle TN said he has lots of activity now, didn't see any earlier. The adults that make it now should be on the last cycle and born to fly. They don't mate, but go on to Mexico. They mate late winter as they are packing up to fly north. As they fly north, their first stop (egg laying and dying) is TX.
Have fun!
Susan

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Re: 2015 Saving Monarch Butterflies By Raising Caterpillars

Blackened and dead are likely bacterial infection (like Bt or related). It could also be assassin bug sucking the life out of them.

...you are likely to see bigger females that are equipped to fly the distance.
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Re: 2015 Saving Monarch Butterflies By Raising Caterpillars

Hi Susan, I'm not Apple but one possibility is that your cats were attacked by Stink bugs. Do you see any of those around? Stink bugs attack by sucking all the inside juices out of the caterpillar, leaving an empty shell. I also have tropical mw in containers because i find it easier to control predators that way. Here is a photo of some vegetation i leave at the base of the plants where the caterpillars can hide while they are resting. As soon as the vegetation goes down, the caterpillars resting low on the plant immediately head for their hiding places. I've had good luck, or rather the caterpillars have had good luck with this. Now let's see what Apple has to say.
P1010650.JPG

Susan W
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Re: 2015 Saving Monarch Butterflies By Raising Caterpillars

Thanks for the heads up on possible afflictions. If bacterial, not much I can do. I hadn't noticed stink bugs. Then today looking at another container with several plants and a couple of cats, spotted a stink bug, or something similar. I hope I eliminated it from this earthly existence. There are several noshing on the milkweeds now. I need to put little flags up so I remember where and which plant!
Have fun!
Susan

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Re: 2015 Saving Monarch Butterflies By Raising Caterpillars

Found this chrysalis last Tuesday. It is attached to one of the trash pails I was taking to the road. Dumped the trash into another pail, and put that one in the garage for safe keeping. This photo was taken yesterday. In the second photo you can see the wings forming.

Image

Image

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Re: 2015 Saving Monarch Butterflies By Raising Caterpillars

:shock: :roll: :lol:

Thank goodness it picked YOUR trash can :-()
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Re: 2015 Saving Monarch Butterflies By Raising Caterpillars

I feel like a proud papa!

Susan W
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Re: 2015 Saving Monarch Butterflies By Raising Caterpillars

I now have 2 chrysalis in the mesh hamper. I had noticed more cats out on the plants a few weeks ago, but some taken by predators, disease or something.
Have fun!
Susan

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Re: 2015 Saving Monarch Butterflies By Raising Caterpillars

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