Friday, August 19, 2016

Prime Caterpillar season!

August 19!  The summer is quickly getting away from us, and it is prime Caterpillar (Bug) season!  I am still very concerned that there are so few butterflies and caterpillars in my own garden and everywhere that I look for caterpillars.  But, I have seen at least 1 Monarch everyday this week, and I was invited out to a farm West of the Twin Cities Metro and was lucky enough to find an egg,  a hatchling less than 24 hours old, 2 2nd instar caterpillars, and 3 3rd instar caterpillars.  So there are caterpillars if you are patient and hunt for them!  Why did we not find any bigger than 3rd Instar is my nagging question?  Those would be the really big ones just before they Chrysalis.  I remember just a few years ago in a field the size we were looking in it would be FULL of caterpillars.  They were very easy to find, and very plentiful.  That just has not been the case the past few years!  So I have been sharing my babies with a couple neighbors and to date have raised, hatched and released almost 2 dozen caterpillars.  It's supposed to be very cool weather this weekend, so I'm hoping I can do more hunting and save more caterpillars!  Otherwise we just have to keep waiting and hoping that the population returns to what it was 5-10 years ago.  We have to keep working together to protect caterpillars, milkweed, and the flowers the adults need to replenish their energy and prepare them for their flight to Mexico in a month!  As always I welcome your thoughts, questions and comments!
Save the Monarchs!

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Save the Monarchs! Save the Milkweeds!

Saving the Monarchs starts with people using their voices to educate others about the lifecycle and needs of these beautiful creatures.  I was very disturbed yesterday while I watched a lawncare company MOW down a field of Milkweeds!  They were not being sprayed, which is a good thing!  However those Milkweeds likely were home to caterpillars that likely will never survive now.  So if you know people that run lawncare companies they need to be educated not to destroy milkweeds, especially in August and early September.  The destruction/elimination of Milkweeds are of primary explanation why Monarchs are on the decline.  On the bright side, I am noticing milkweeds in gardens everywhere I go.  So if you are growing Milkweeds....YAY!  Let them grow until after first frost.  Check them for caterpillars.  Protect those little caterpillars!  We are making a difference, but the declining numbers are staggering!  If for every 100 butterflies that fly to Mexico in October, only 5 survive to make it back north in the spring, that means that we need to increase those numbers significantly!  It is truly survival of the fittest, so the more fit Monarchs we can send to Mexico the more will return.  Mowing down the milkweeds does not insure survival no matter how fit the caterpillar!  Use your voice to educate those who don't know that Milkweeds are of Vital importance to the survival of Monarchs!
Save the Monarchs!  Grow and protect Milkweeds.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

August is here!

August is here.  That means that the fall migration will soon be underway!  The caterpillars that hatch into butterflies from now on are the ones that will make the 3,000 mile journey to the mountains in Mexico!  It is very important that if you are trying to raise Monarchs that we take care to ensure their survival and send them on their way.  The latest caterpillar that I found last year was in the middle of September, so we still have a month left to find and protect those caterpillars!  Also if you have milkweeds in your yard please do not pull them out or destroy them without assurance there are no eggs or caterpillars on the leaves.  I will have milkweed seeds available in a few weeks if you are interested in planting them for next season.  They either need to be planted this fall or left outdoors in a garage or someplace cold until spring.  As I mentioned in a previous blog I have discovered these You-tube videos by Mrlundscience that have much valuable information about milkweeds, caterpillars and raising butterflies.....check him out!
Until next time....happy caterpillar hunting!
Save the Monarch!