Friday, August 11, 2017

NPvirus

Its been an interesting week!  I have had beautiful healthy butterflies hatch every day this week.  The highlight was 4 females all on Wednesday!  Eggs, and caterpillars remain abundant this year.

That's all good news!!  Bad news this week, I learned about, and experienced first hand what I believe is called NPvirus...NPV.  I noticed one of my largest cats this AM dangling lifelessly from a chewed leaf, with a green substance on the paper towels beneath it.  So I visited the expert that I have mentioned many times (Rich Lund)  mrlundscience sure enough he had experienced a similar episode, and his information was informative, and discouraging!!  I removed all my caterpillars from big enclosure, and it will need to be sterilized with a bleach solution.  I am hoping I will not have to euthanize any more of my large cats!  I will monitor them closely until they do their thing!  The good news is that most of my caterpillars are already in Chrysalides, so I think they are safe!  I hope they are safe!!  There were only 4 or 5 big ones that were potentially exposed to the virus.  I have about 15-20 that are still too small to release into the big enclosure, so I think they are all safe, as long as I don't have another outbreak! yuk

So that's the news from the caterpillar world.  If you are following this blog, and are raising your own caterpillars/Monarchs please visit mrlundscience You-tube videos to learn more about these threats to our Monarchs!!  The last generation of the season is here.  They are the super Monarchs that will go to Mexico.  The more healthy butterflies that we release, the more hope there will be for next year's season to be a repeat of this year!!  We need several years in a row like this year in order to revive the species!!  Keep up the good work.

Save the MONARCH!

Sunday, August 6, 2017

August 6, eggs, babies and Chrysalides

There will be a butterfly explosion at my house this week.  All those Chrysalides that formed last weekend should hatch this week....very exciting!  A friend and I went "hunting" last Friday, and found at least 20 more eggs, and three baby cats.  I am still not seeing large (4th instar) cats out in the wild, so I continue to believe the safest place for them is in my care.  I am seeing so many more butterflies this year, which just makes me happy.
I watched some of the "mrlundscience" videos on youtube this week and he is feeling the same optimism about this years season, however, he also cautions that one good season is not enough to save this species and we must remain vigilant and continue to spread the word about planting milkweed, and encouraging our city governments to not mow it down! (especially in July and August!)
I also watched a video about the OE Virus that attacks Monarchs and spreads on milkweed.  It seems it's not a huge problem here in the midwest, but I have had caterpillars, and butterflies die that must have been infected.  More often than killing the caterpillar or butterfly it lives on the adult Monarch, then is spread when it lands on milkweed to feed or lay eggs.  Very fascinating!  If you're interested in more detail, please watch the videos produced by Mr. Lund.
Below are pictures of eggs, and a few of my chrysalides.  I hope I can get pictures, maybe even video of all this butterflies emerging this week!  In the meantime, Thanks for caring....SAVE the MONARCH!!


Sunday, July 30, 2017

July 30

Very interesting, and exciting weekend.  All the caterpillars that we found a couple weeks ago all spun within about 24 hours on Fri and Sat.  It was amazing to witness.  I actually saw 2 Chrysalides form from start to finish.  My daughter managed to film at least part of one of them spinning.  I also had 4 more eggs hatch, and I managed to take a picture of 2 baby Cats, approximately 1 and 3 days old.  The photo (zoomed in) shows how fast these little critters grow, and also how unbelievably small they are when they begin their lives.
So, again I am very encouraged that I am seeing so many caterpillars, monarchs and milkweeds, and finding more and more people that are finding the joy in raising these beautiful creatures, hoping to ensure their survival.  I am happy to pass my experiences, and advice on to anyone who will listen.  I can't wait for all these chrysalides to hatch now.  That will be another eventful 24 hours!
Save the Monarchs!

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

July 26

Well it is the end of July, and the Monarch and Caterpillar season are in full swing.  I am very excited about the numbers of caterpillars and butterflies that I am seeing, and about the numbers of milkweed that I see when I'm driving around.  I really feel like people are getting the message, and are proactively doing their part to save our pollinators!  Everywhere I go people ask for my expertise and advice about raising caterpillars, and obviously I love talking about it!  These amazing creatures just never cease to amaze me.  I love to watch them!  This week I witnessed 2 cats on the same leaf fighting.  I didn't watch long enough to see how it was resolved, but I'm sure eventually one of them just gave in and moved to another leaf, but it was sort of funny to me.
Well, as promised I took some pictures of my enclosure that I built this past weekend...pictures below.  Let me tell you what I did, cause it's hard to tell from the photos.  It's a large aquarium turned on end, so it's about 2 Ft. tall, then I covered the opening with removable netting, which I Velcroed to the frame.  One of the short sides was missing the glass anyway, so I covered it with a sturdy piece of cardboard, weighted down with books, so when it has chrysalides on it I can easily remove them with out disturbing the caterpillars below as needed.  The removable netting also makes it easy to access the caterpillars without disturbing chrysalides.  Just in time I was able to move in 12 large Cats, 12 tiny Cats, and 5 eggs.  I still am keeping the eggs and tiny newly hatched cats away from the largest ones in a separate container.
So this season has started much stronger than last few years.  I have also released 4 butterflies, 2 male, and 2 female.
That's all for now.....Save the MONARCH!  I welcome your questions and comments.


Friday, July 21, 2017

July 21

So far, this season seems like an improvement over last year.  I have had much better luck finding eggs and tiny caterpillars this year.  My daughter, a friend, and I went hunting last night and brought home many of the eggs and babies I currently possess.  I currently have 2 chrysalides, 3 large caterpillars, nearly 20 babies, and 8 eggs.  That is far ahead of last years numbers.  I am also seeing Monarchs in my garden, and frequently out on walks and while driving around.  I'm still not seeing large 3rd or 4th Instar caterpillars, but it's still early. Some of the ones that I have taken into captivity would have (hopefully) survived if left out in the wild.  I have plans this weekend to create a large habitat out of an old aquarium, so I will let you know next week how that goes and post pictures.  As all these babies grow, they need LOTS of space and milkweed.  Please don't try to save the Monarch population, unless you are prepared to provide the space, and the food for them to grow.   I believe there are more and more people out there that care and are aware that we need to do everything we can to save this species.  How sad would it be if my grandchildren never get to see a Monarch butterfly?!!  So keep up the good work, and as always, I welcome your questions, comments and ideas.  Together, we can Save the Monarchs!

Friday, July 14, 2017

Monarch season underway July 14

My first post of the season!  I have been busy searching for baby caterpillars, and eggs, but the season has started slowly.  I have connected to a new friend, and fellow butterfly enthusiast (Cheryl Natt) that to my delight lives very near me, so I hope we can perhaps connect with others in our area as well.  Perhaps a Monarchlady club?!  She was lucky enough to have had better luck finding eggs, and had quite a few cats of all different instars and roughly a dozen chrysalides, that she shared with me.  I also found 1 egg, and 2 babies in my yard today, so I am more hopeful than I was a week ago.  I believe I only found 3 cats in my garden all of last year, so that is good news that I've found that many already this year, and it's only mid July!  I also saw an article this week that indicated that the DNR has ask for 70 million dollars to plant milkweed along I-35 from Minnesota to Texas!

Please let me know what you are finding in your gardens!  Save our pollinators!

This photo is of my surprise hatchling this Wednesday....didn't notice it was ready to hatch on tuesday, and it was waiting for me at Breakfast.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Super Monarchs

The days are getting shorter, the nights are getting cooler, and it's time for our Monarch friends to fly south to avoid the cold and snow.  I again was part of the Minnesota Monarch Festival held last Saturday Sept 10th at Lake Nokomis.  I enjoy teaching, and just sharing my love and knowledge about Monarchs with anyone who will listen, so as you can imagine this festival is one of the highlights of my summer.  We tagged and released over 200 Monarchs to send to Mexico.  If you happen to find, or see a tagged Monarch, the tags are a tiny white circle on the hind wing, report your finding if possible.

I have lost track of exactly how many butterflies I have actually released that I raised this summer, but I'm figuring by the time September ends (I still have 4 caterpillars, and 7 chrysalises) I will have released nearly 40 butterflies.  I have also shared them with friends, and neighbors so they can enjoy this beautiful process.  While that is a small drop in the bucket, the lack of caterpillars this summer is a huge concern.  I feel like I should have had more than twice that number if numbers of butterflies were more normal.  If you are reading this and are in the Minneapolis area and would like to help me in this mission I have Milkweed seeds in a MilkCrate at the end of my driveway, please plant Milkweed and butterfly friendly flowers in your garden ( they need SUN) and you too will have butterflies and caterpillars in your garden.  Help me Save the Monarch!

Here is my pretty girl hatched today, and my handsome male!  See if you can identify the difference.
Hint (Male has a black dot on the hind wings....Female does not)  Also if you notice the veins in the male are thinner than the female.  These two butterflies are headed to Mexico....safe travels.