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Re: 2016 Saving Monarch Butterflies By Raising Caterpillars

All of the above including the yellow oleander aphids. :x
I also get these, but tussock moth caterpillars are the only ones I go all out to eliminate because they eat up the precious leaves and also damage the quality of the remaining leaves.

Subject: 2014Backyard bird and butterfly (and dragonfly too) watching
applestar wrote:I had thought that this was a Parenthesis ladybeetle/ladybug on the corn.
Image

But it started to bother me that it seems much bigger and lacking some specific colorations.
Finally realized it's a "Swamp Milkweed Leaf Beetle"
https://bugguide.net/node/view/2970

I'm *hoping* this is a pupa on a common milkweed. I'll have to keep an eye on it because it looks awfully similar to a Colorado potato beetle pupa, but the large black head/thorax makes me think otherwise.

...Hmm... Looking at the lifecycle illustrations on the bugguide link, this is the larva.
Image

...and this little one which is 1/2 the size of the larva -- and which I thought was a ladybug for sure this time :roll: -- is actually a newly emerged from pupa beetle:
Image
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Re: 2016 Saving Monarch Butterflies By Raising Caterpillars

I've never had a problem with the Tussock moths denuding entire plants. Maybe because I have so many plants and the wasps or whatever quickly pick off the Tussock moth caterpillars. I'll start with 20 or so and over the weeks the numbers decrease rapidly.

I seriously doubt I'll see any Monarch caterpillars this year. There's just not enough time for them to mature before the typical first fall frost.

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Re: 2016 Saving Monarch Butterflies By Raising Caterpillars

04ECFD30-88C7-4D3A-91BF-A5ABA04048D9.JPG
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Re: 2016 Saving Monarch Butterflies By Raising Caterpillars

They grow up so fast! :D

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Re: 2016 Saving Monarch Butterflies By Raising Caterpillars

Perhaps obvious to some, but trying to figure (in general) the cycle pattern on the monarch. There are 4 sometimes 5 cycles from Mexico and back. We think of them mating upon leaving Mexico, and 1st egg laying may be in TX. Go though cycle, all the while traveling north (or NE). The last one in the cycle born to fly, is larger doesn't mate, is going south.

Now in mid August Apple is seeing them laying eggs in NJ, and my group hasn't show up in the midsouth. Where are the ones in NJ now coming from? BL in OH, where are you in the cycle?

No one answer of course, just general patterns.
Have fun!
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Re: 2016 Saving Monarch Butterflies By Raising Caterpillars

Good point Susan -- I was wondering that too. First Monarchs usually arrive in this area around late June/early July, and I sometimes find eggs and caterpillars from that laying, usually not very many.

Main and multiple egg laying generally occur in late July through August and into September. I was gathering leaves for the munchers this afternoon and saw a female laying eggs again. She looked fresh not tattered so she must have recently eclosed.

Among the leaves I gathered, found 2 freshly molted 3rd instars, 1 tiny hatchling, and 1 egg. Saw a 5th instar that I left outside.
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Re: 2016 Saving Monarch Butterflies By Raising Caterpillars

#2 and #3 eclosed today -- a male and a female. The male took off right away when I released them, but the female took time to take in some nourishment. :D

Image

I found something like 10 more mostly 5th instars outside. 7 of them were clustered on these nearly denuded milkweed with no other plants very close by -- I estimated that they will run out of food before they are ready to change.

Image

So I brought out my giant pop up hamper and put it over the plants, then cut off the other three plants with one caterpillar each that were in scattered other locations and stuck them all under the hamper. This way they will all have enough to eat before turning into chrysalises, and hopefully, they will do so by going up to the top of the hamper.

Image

I wasn't able to tightly close the bottom due to the pond and stuff, which means they can crawl out from the open bottom and wander off, and also predators (like mice maybe?) could get in from the base. But I will check over the next couple of days, and relocate hamper to save all the ones that have made chrysalises inside the hamper.
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Re: 2016 Saving Monarch Butterflies By Raising Caterpillars

"It's" working.... :()

Image

I added a few more cut off plants with a 4-5th instar on them, too, and added an extra stalk with unoccupied leaves for insurance yesterday.
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Re: 2016 Saving Monarch Butterflies By Raising Caterpillars

That is BEAUTIFUL!!!!! I am so very jealous! Not one single Monarch caterpillar on any of my plants this year.

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Re: 2016 Saving Monarch Butterflies By Raising Caterpillars

Fascinating to say the least! Monarchs are just starting to show up here.

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Re: 2016 Saving Monarch Butterflies By Raising Caterpillars

Busy, busy, busy! :-()

Removed and isolated one female that eclosed yesterday (#5F) early this morning before sunup, just before ALL these others eclosed. :()

Two of them had to be isolated --
- One (#10) fell off as it eclosed, while still wing-crumpled, which might mean it (haven't verified sex) might be infected with OE though I didn't see any other symptoms prior to this -- I"ll examine it later after its wings are dry enough to handle.
- And the other one (#13F) had a suspicious sunken spot while still a chrysalis which could have meant it was infested by tachnid fly maggots.
These two eclosed BEFORE #6-9 and #11. They were all females.

Image

DD released #5F after sunrise and put her on the garlic chive blossoms in case she was thirsty/hungry/ :D


#13F was not tachinid-infested, but had an oedema (?) that did not drain properly -- it has dried into a bump and may cause some imbalance in weight distribution, but since tagged butterflies learn to fly, I hope this wont affect her too much.

Image
...I'm thinking maybe a hungry 5th instar caterpillar nibbled on her chrysalis before it hardened. :?:
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Re: 2016 Saving Monarch Butterflies By Raising Caterpillars

Yep, I definitely have to look for and buy a fabric mesh pop up hamper before next year.

I found my little mesh butterfly habitat. Right now it holds a horned-tailed caterpillar that I found feasting on the Trumpet Vine I was pulling out. I've got to find some sort of container that I can fill with water that will hold trumpet vine branches yet not tip easily so I can put the whole set-up in a sheltered area outside.

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Re: 2016 Saving Monarch Butterflies By Raising Caterpillars

Heavy, wide bottomed bud vase works. I also find those plastic test tube like things with rubber caps used for long-stemmed roses work really well. I couldnt remember where I put them, though, so Ive been using empty vitamin bottles. I put a round plastic takeout container lid that fit perfectly in the bottom of the zipped butterfly cages for stability.

Outside, that hamper worked like a charm. They really DO instinctively climb to the top (in fact, bottom) of the hamper to hang in J and make chrysalises. One more caterpillar roaming about, then I can put this hamper in a protected place with some kind of solid or mesh to cover the open bottom (open top) to keep out any nasties.

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-- I released #10F.

Inside, I decided the first butterfly cage has reached maximum occupancy, and put the next group of 4th and 5th instars in the 2nd cage.

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Re: 2016 Saving Monarch Butterflies By Raising Caterpillars

I finally have EGGS!!!! Watched a female laying eggs on milkweed in my pollinator habitat! And I checked to make sure it really was laying eggs! I can't believe it, it's so very late in the season that I had given up all hope of seeing any this year. So my daughter and I went to the store and bought a pop up mesh hamper. I got a rectangular shaped one and plan on using a sheer curtain to close the opening. I just need to find a good place to set it outside. Oh wait, I have an outdoor table out back that has only a pot of geraniums setting on it. That should work.

I tentatively identified my little horned tail caterpillar as a Hummingbird Clearwing moth caterpillar. Hmmm, found it on a trumpet vine which is not one of their listed food sources.

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Re: 2016 Saving Monarch Butterflies By Raising Caterpillars

Trumpet vine or trumpet honeysuckle? We raised a Snowberry Clearwing that uses the honeysuckle -- green, horned tail, spots along the side. Turns pink just before pupating. It turned into a Bumblebee mimic clear-winged moth.
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Re: 2016 Saving Monarch Butterflies By Raising Caterpillars

Subject: Caterpillar and Pupae ID
applestar wrote:The caterpillar is Snowberry Clearwing moth
:arrow: https://www.butterfliesandmoths.org/spec ... s-diffinis
applestar wrote:Lonicera sempervirens (scarlet/coral honeysuckle) -- great hummingbird attractor. Cardinals seem to like nesting in it. It seems to be evergreen here in Zone 6/7 border against a SE wall. Also hosts clearwing moth (also known as bumblebee moth) caterpillars.
Image
We raised and overwintered this one as pupa last year. (Kids named it "Bumble")
...I don't know what the pupae might be... Were they under the honeysuckle?
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Re: 2016 Saving Monarch Butterflies By Raising Caterpillars

6 butterflies in the cage this morning. Released the three females from yesterday since they were getting feisty and disturbing the newly eclosed ones who just wanted to hang quietly and stretch and dry their wings. At least one male eclosed this morning, maybe two -- that might be why they were a bit more anxious.

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You can see the orange/black/brown spatters on the paper towel-lined eclosing cage floor where the eclosed butterflies expelled their excess body fluids after completely pumping up their wings.

I was concerned to see the black spots on the remaining chrysalises, especially the line of black spots on the one close-up, but surface spots are nothing to be concerned about according to this website
:arrow: OE in Monarch Butterfly Pupae

...and in any case, When I thought about it, I realized these spots are probably wing scales smeared from the ones that had been agitating to be released.

Four made chrysalises this morning -- two on leaves and had to be taped up to the top of the cage :roll: +9 more 4th and 5th instar caterpillars in this 2nd cage
Image
(and a few more youngsters in other containers) :D
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Re: 2016 Saving Monarch Butterflies By Raising Caterpillars

Three from yesterday, three this morning, including another male -- so of course they started flapping around right away and the two males from yesterday kept zeroing in on the females. This cage is too small for 6 Monarchs to flap around and have the males challenging each other :roll: so I released them all as soon as I could.

Opened the zippered half-cover -- EVERYBODY OUT! ...of course almost every butterfly including this male went down to the bottom and fluttered everywhere EXCEPT to the open half of the ceiling. Finally one flew out -- and the rest? Nope. I had to coax them out with a blooming mint sprig. So far, including this morning's 6, we've raised and released 21 butterflies.

Image

I moved the outside hamper to the teak patio table over a doubled piece of floating cover. Pulled the hamper handles through the table slats and bungeed them underneath so it should be secure. But one of the caterpillars that was hanging out on the side of the mesh hamper got stung through the mesh by "something" -- it didn't look good, but I've isolated it in a container just in case it will recover. We will see. They are safer once they get up to the solid nylon ceiling (bottom) of the hamper and hang in chrysalis. I learned the hard way before that, in outdoor enclosures, if they try to make chrysalises on a mesh/screened surface, they should be protected with a solid film and later re-located to an interior chrysalis hanger or a solid surface because wasps can sting the caterpillars hanging in J or the chrysalis through the open mesh.

...and yes, the messy paper towels were bothering me, too. :o I took this opportunity to replace them with new sheets. :wink:

...oh and found a whole bunch more just hatched first instars... :-()
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Re: 2016 Saving Monarch Butterflies By Raising Caterpillars

Well, I'm a bit leery of using a mesh hamper for caterpillars now. Left the one outside in the rain last night (but still protected from the wind and it doesn't hold water) and this morning the caterpillar is stiff and just hanging by it's back "legs". (Trumpet Vine, Campsis radicans, not trumpet honeysuckle) It wasn't cooked by the sun either, the spot was still shady.

Do you keep yours on a covered porch or something? Unless I set up a tarp over my greenhouse frame I don't have any place where it would be protected from the rain.

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Re: 2016 Saving Monarch Butterflies By Raising Caterpillars

When a caterpillar is hanging limp, it's usually infected by bacteria like Bt. They will turn brown and mushy, then black. One of outdoor dangers. An older instar brought inside can display this, too -- then its easier to tell because they generally have a massive diarrhea first. The bacteria could have been introduced by wind drift or by another insect -- or in this case, conceivably by a hummingbird -- from a sprayed.dusted plant. You know that Bt corn pollen will also infect caterpillars as well, right?

They can also be stung by a wasp through the mesh -- the wasp thinks she found an easy prey and stings first, not realizing she can't carry the caterpillar off through the mesh. Other predators like assassin bugs and soldier beetles could be present under the mesh, too, even ants -- sometimes they are tending/protecting the aphids and will attack the caterpillars.

Rain in and of itself shouldn't be a problem as long as the hamper/mesh is secure snd doesn't blow around too much if rain is accompanied by gusty wind.

Bummer this one didn't make it. :(
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Re: 2016 Saving Monarch Butterflies By Raising Caterpillars

Some of the caterpillars I *resisted* collecting and left in the garden to grow up on their own ... :)

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Re: 2016 Saving Monarch Butterflies By Raising Caterpillars

The monarchs are arriving here! There have been a few in the area, now my yard. One was busy laying eggs alternating with eating yesterday. She preferred the tropical milkweed blooms for eating. MW plants are here and there. I'm not putting any more out for the market, and have a number of swamp and tropical in pots on various shelves, plus the ones I've planted in large containers. The one female or several are locating the plants, as there are eggs!

I pulled a couple of leaves and sprigs with eggs and set aside in one mesh container. I use bud vases or flower picks to hold the stems. When they are eggs and small larva using the pop up laundry hamper with a cloth over the top. As they get bigger will go into the butterfly cages. These are the 15" square, zipper on side. 2 of those occupied now by swallowtail chrysalis and some wee baby cats. A 3rd has the 2 giant swallowtails (now chrysalis). The swallowtails are moving on through. 2 eclosed yesterday AM, and another this AM. Oops, don't think this one may make it. Checked again, and its forewings were stuck to chrysalis shell. I knocked loose, but doesn't look good.
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Re: 2016 Saving Monarch Butterflies By Raising Caterpillars

I was wrong. It is alive. Just looked very dead hanging there all limp like that. It was like that for a couple days then "woke up" and ate nearly the whole branch of leaves. I put a small pot of sandy soil in the cage since they require soil to pupate in. I had to give it a fresh branch today.
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Re: 2016 Saving Monarch Butterflies By Raising Caterpillars

So, Trumpet Vine Sphinx?

Species Paratrea plebeja - Plebeian Sphinx - Hodges#7793 - BugGuide.Net
https://bugguide.net/node/view/4152

Is it bigger? It might have been molting.
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Re: 2016 Saving Monarch Butterflies By Raising Caterpillars

Pooh, yes, that's it. The blue "horn" on the tail is a sure identifier. I misidentified it. And yes, it's much bigger. Just never had one seem so dead for so long.

Oh well, it's good practice for raising Monarchs this way. I started raising caterpillars by using tomato worms. I killed several at the beginning.

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Re: 2016 Saving Monarch Butterflies By Raising Caterpillars

Yeah they are so similar, aren't they? This is one I haven't seen yet. I have a smallish trumpet vine that I'm trying to keep small and not swallow the garden, but thats it. Probably not worth their attention.... :|

We had three Monarchs eclose yesterday, then one more this morning. I included photo record of chrysalis labels in this collage -- we are up to #51. But we have two runts that turned into chrysalises on the paper towel without climbing to the top of the container. Not sure what's up with them so they are isolated. Sometimes, this happens if they decide there isn't enough food -- but usually, even then, they will follow through all the normal steps including hang in J.

First one out of the 9 chrysalises in the patio hamper eclosed. :()

Ready to eclose chrysalis glowing in the rising sun at 6:55AM this morning
Image
Image

I had to rush to release the butterflies today and the 4th -- a male -- that eclosed this morning in the inside cage wasn't ready. I had to gently transfer him to a flower where he could dry his wings and then get some refreshment. He did give me ample opportunities to get some good photos. :wink:

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Re: 2016 Saving Monarch Butterflies By Raising Caterpillars

Bottom-left was released from the patio hamper early to make room for the three newcomers. I think it was a cool morning so I found a patch of morning sun on jewelweed. Inside cage also had one eclosed butterfly this morning. All four were released late this afternoon since they were very active.

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Re: 2016 Saving Monarch Butterflies By Raising Caterpillars

Today, we released 4 boys and 2 girls. Two males from patio hamper, two more males from inside -- including last butterfly from the first chrysalis/eclosing cage and one of the runts that made chrysalis on the paper towel, and two females from the 2nd eclosing cage. The other runt on the paper towel was our first caterpillar/butterfly to fail to develop. Sadly it was unable to pump up its wings and died shortly after eclosing.

Image

I've learned that a % of casualties is inevitable, and once your numbers start pushing 50, they will start to crop up. It's sad, but not a shock anymore.
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Re: 2016 Saving Monarch Butterflies By Raising Caterpillars

Yes, even under the best of circumstances there will be fatalities. Just one of the facts of life.

You've done a great job. Your set-up is an inspiration. I hope some of your babies make it to Mexico and back.

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Re: 2016 Saving Monarch Butterflies By Raising Caterpillars

Thank you so much :D My hope is that by sharing my experiences, I am helping to demonstrate that it's NOT very difficult to do this, and it is very rewarding to see the butterflies you raised fly off. :()

Image

...with no tagging there is minimal handling, but these caterpillars and butterflies behave predictably, and it is very simple to get them to climb onto your finger-perch, raise them up into the air and send them off. O:)

Younger DD released yesterday's five -- two males and three females:
Image

..and I released today's -- four females and one male:
Image
We are up to 61st chrysalis :-()
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Re: 2016 Saving Monarch Butterflies By Raising Caterpillars

...I've slowed down. 50+ is enough, don't you think?

Last four of the big 5th instars in the containers made chrysalids yesterday, and we now have a little container of maybe 4 or 5 babies (eggs and 1st or 2nd instars) that were accidentally brought in on leaves for feeding the big'uns. Im looking at two black ready-to-eclose chrysalids inside and I think the 9th and last in the patio hamper may or may not be eclosing today. Its been cooler for the last few days ... 61°F this morning.

Yesterday, I saw maybe six or seven 5th instars as wells a few 2nd and 3rd instars on the milkweeds outside that I RESISTED, and yesterday, there were 2 Monarch butterflies that were flying around BEFORE I released the eclosed butterflies. They could have been ones from the day before, but they might also have eclosed outside somewhere.

I'm having fun imagining a time-lapse video of our garden as seen from somewhere around roof-level, showing all the Monarch butterflies we grew and released this year fanning and flying outward. :D
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Re: 2016 Saving Monarch Butterflies By Raising Caterpillars

It's nice to think the adult butterflies are ones we nurtured through the early stages. But, often not the case! I have the invasion of black swallowtails (worse things could happen). I've had a number mature, and still have too many more coming along. When I see one in the yard, usually matured on its own. Just this AM noticed a fresh female and a male, different time and flower. One could have been 'mine' from recent release. They are maturing, going into chrysalis quite well on their own.

I've had a couple of monarchs stop to eat. There was one male that hung around, and the last couple days a female. She doesn't seem to be interested in the milkweed and egg thing, just eats! From my observations and reading, when they find an oasis be it flowery field or yard, may stop off for a couple of days to fuel and recharge.
I do have one or more monarch cats out on the milkweeds, and 8 in a mesh cage eating away.
Have fun!
Susan

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Re: 2016 Saving Monarch Butterflies By Raising Caterpillars

That's true. When we were tagging them it was quite definite that it was rare for any of them to stick around once released. They have their own agenda. It's not like there are no nectar flowers or milkweed nursery for them to lay their eggs on here, obviously, but their first instinct seems to be to fly AWAY somewhere else, even when it's not really time to migrate yet. Sometimes they might wander back (maybe due to wind currents or something) after a few days, but then go on away again.

Butterflies that were released late in the day may still be around next morning, and sometimes a male might decide to make this his territory for a couple of days. But only time we had a tagged butterfly that stayed for several days ...almost a week... was when we had a wing-broken-and-mended butterfly that apparently was not equal to flying off. It stayed flying all over the garden, but didn't fly away and eventually, I found it had died without seeing the rest of the world. :(
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Re: 2016 Saving Monarch Butterflies By Raising Caterpillars

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Re: 2016 Saving Monarch Butterflies By Raising Caterpillars

Just dropping down to say Hi and See you later.
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Susan

ButterflyLady29
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Re: 2016 Saving Monarch Butterflies By Raising Caterpillars

I found some today!!!! 2 large final instar caterpillars and either 5 or 6 (forgot to keep count) first instar caterpillars! There was evidence that there had been more but apparently the predators are eating well. Hubby found a ground wasp nest and I saw several wasps of many species hunting for food in the patch.

So now the large ones are in a mesh hamper and the little ones are in the finer mesh butterfly habitat. I ended up bringing a bunch of tiny tiny baby ladybugs along. The holes in the mesh are large enough for the ladybug larvae to crawl through but too small for the caterpillars.

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applestar
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Re: 2016 Saving Monarch Butterflies By Raising Caterpillars

Yay! You'll both be raising migrating butterflies at this point. Good luck! :-()
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applestar
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Re: 2016 Saving Monarch Butterflies By Raising Caterpillars

A male and a female today:

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...Patio hamper crysalids have all eclosed...
Learning never ends because we can share what we've learned. And in sharing our collective experiences, we gain deeper understanding of what we learned.

ButterflyLady29
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Re: 2016 Saving Monarch Butterflies By Raising Caterpillars

Well, I didn't have things closed up as well as I should have. The 2 big ones escaped, one last night and the other this morning. I hope they are hiding in the Turks cap lilies that are right next to where I had the hamper.

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applestar
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Re: 2016 Saving Monarch Butterflies By Raising Caterpillars

Well, hopefully you will see freshly eclosed Monarchs in your garden in a week or so. :bouncey:
Learning never ends because we can share what we've learned. And in sharing our collective experiences, we gain deeper understanding of what we learned.

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