Tuesday, July 26, 2016

July 27 Good news Bad news....

I have been studying up on raising caterpillars from eggs by watching You-tube videos.  I highly recommend MrLundScience how to raise Monarch series.  He convinced me of an easier way to try to raise my caterpillars from eggs.  I can't do more than a few eggs at a time because when the babies hatch I can't find them on the plant, so he cuts the leaves with scissors and puts the eggs on a leaf on a wet paper towel.  I didn't think that would work but I tried it this weekend, and it was successful!  That's the good news.  The bad news is I then put the babies on milkweeds in my aquarium in water bottles like always, but now I can't find them because they are so tiny!  So I'm not sure if they escaped, ate each other, or if they will grow and then I'll find them in a week or so.  But I also had 3 more hatch today, so I put them in a smaller container on leaves, so I'll see if I can keep track of them.  The other good news is as I was complaining that I wasn't finding any caterpillars that have hatched in my garden I found 2 first instars on the same plant today.  I need to see if I can find some milkweeds nearby that are not so covered with aphids as mine!  Happy hunting! Keep up the good work.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Monarch hatching

video of Monarch hatching late summer 2015

July 22

Well the caterpillar business is slow to pick up this year, but I'm hopeful!!  I spent many hours, and many miles walking looking for caterpillars last weekend, with NO luck at all.  But I have found eggs.  I cannot post pictures of eggs because I do not have a high enough power camera, but if you're interested in what they look like I suggest you look online.  There are lots of good photos much better than I could post here.  I found 3 tiny caterpillars today.  One that I hatched from an egg, the others are very recently hatched.  I have also marked 3 eggs in my garden that I will watch and hopefully capture before anything harms them.
Do Monarch caterpillars have predators?  A few years ago I probably would have answered that question with "not many"...however, I believe now that they do.  Especially if there are not as many Monarchs laying eggs so Caterpillars are in short supply already.  So the other insects in my garden that I believe harm my cats are Japanese Beetles, Wasps, Milkweed Beetles and even other caterpillars.  I have reached out to experts regarding this, and have not gotten any solid answers, so these are just my personal observations.  If anyone out there reads this and has other information, please feel free to comment.  I would also be interested to know what to do about these other pests.  Since I can't use a pesticide because I don't want to harm the cats I have tried natural remedies such as peppermint oil for wasps, and Lemon with Cloves but it doesn't seem to be working.  The Japanese Beetles I can pick off, but I can't pick off wasps! So I just do what I can to protect the caterpillars and eggs as I find them.  Keep the faith, and happy caterpillar hunting!

Friday, July 15, 2016

From egg, to caterpillar to Chrysalis to Butterfly

Our first Monarch has hatched!  So this is the caterpillar that was first pictured on June 21.  It made it's chrysalis on July 3 and hatched shortly after 1 PM July 15th.  Below are some of the pictures I took while in the Chrysalis.  Notice how in the first picture the case is a beautiful green color.  As the butterfly develops, the wings become visible, until the Chrysalis is a perfect clear showcase for the emerging butterfly.  It will hang on the chrysalis for several hours before it is ready to be on it's way later this evening...so more posts and video to come!

Friday, July 8, 2016

Where are the Monarchs?

I have had many friends and fellow Butterfly enthusiasts asking "where are the Monarchs?  I haven't seen any!"  This is why its so important to spread the word about ways to save this butterfly!
The simple answer is that the population has been so severely decreased in the past few years its not your imagination...there are not as many butterflies as there were 10, 15 years ago!  Some factors are out of our control.  Storms, and overforesting  in over winter sites in Mexico have depleted the only know habitat for the Monarchs during cold northern months.  So obviously the fewer Monarchs that make it through the winter the fewer there are to come back in the spring, which also means that there are fewer Monarchs to rebuild the population in the few short months they spend here in Minnesota.  But don't give up my Monarch friends!!  I have seen 2 monarchs this week in my Milkweeds.  I have last weeks chrysalis that will hatch next week, AND I found my first egg on Wednesday. So keep watching for them!!  As this new generation hatches, and reproduces you WILL see more butterflies in the coming weeks!  I continued to find caterpillars until beginning of October last year.  Those late season butterflies  (August, Sept) are the ones that will migrate back to Mexico, so they need to survive!  Spread the word! Encourage friends, neighbors, city officials, strangers you meet on the street to plant and protect milkweeds.  Watch for caterpillars and try to ensure their survival.  Avoid using pesticides as much as possible. If you want to learn more about raising caterpillars theres lots of information online.  U of Mn Monarch Lab, Monarchwatch.org, and journey north are all credible websites with much useful information about protecting our pollinators.
Stay vigilant friends and Save the Monarchs!!!!

Monday, July 4, 2016

Final Transformation Caterpillar to Chrysalis July 3, 2016

Our Caterpillar began his transformation sometime early on Sunday July 3.  As you can see at the beginning of this video it hangs in the shape of a "J" for several hours preparing to become a Chrysalis.  (FYI a butterfly forms a Chrysalis, a Moth forms a Cocoon.  Many people confuse the two terms.)
This Video is about 3 hours of time lapse compressed to about 30 seconds with the finale being the finished Chrysalis.  As you can see once it begins to spin the Chrysalis it doesn't take long.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Ready to Chrysalis July 2

In a few day's our caterpillar will begin it's final transformation from Caterpillar to Chrysalis to Monarch.  The amount of growing this caterpillar has done in just about 2 weeks is incredible!  My next post will be of the beautiful green chrysalis that will be it's home for about another week or so.

 Below are the 3 caterpillar pics for comparison