Sunday, October 31, 2010

Bald Eagle sighting!

RAW shots 009.psd
Originally uploaded by jendlit
I was on my way to pick my son up from school on Friday when a huge bird flew down to snack on the dead racoon in the middle of the road. I couldn't believe my eyes as I got closer and realized it was a bald eagle. Luckily, my camera was on the seat next to me, so I grabbed it and just started shooting. I was very relieved that the manual settings I had my camera set to, were perfect and that it was in focus ~ it happened so fast. This was the first eagle I've ever seen out of captivity ~ my heart was pounding! I hoped to get a second chance on my way back home, but there was too much traffic on the road for him to return. Talk about perfect timing!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Mexico bound ~

She's on her way ~  the weather conditions today were perfect for releasing the monarch.  The sun was shining, the wind was lightly blowing, and the temperature was well above 60°.  It didn't take her long to stretch her wings and fly.  I took her out of the critter keeper and placed her on a profusely blooming mum.  She immediately took to the skies.  She flew straight up in the air, flew around the large oak tree, and then flew about 60' across the front yard to rest at the top of a dogwood tree.  She rested there for about 30 minutes and then went on her way.  I hope she makes it to Mexico safely.  I wish the tags they use had a GPS microchip in them so that we could track them.  I'm sure someday they'll come up with something like that.  I can't wait until next summer when I can start rearing more monarchs and possibly a few other kinds of butterflies.  I plan on planting more "host" plants in my flowerbeds in the spring~
Thanks for checking in!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Lucy has arrived!

My first experience with rearing a monarch from a caterpillar was a success!  Photos will be added to the post on Monarchs (see side labels or posts from September 2010)!  It was an amazing experience watching the caterpillar that I found on a milkweed plant on the side of the road, turn into a beautiful monarch butterfly!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Nice surprizes!

Common Buckey and Pearl Crescent

Two Question Mark Angelwings
I put out some rotting fruit to try to attract some new butterflies.
It didn't take long ~ !

Gray Hairstreak

Pearl Crescents

Question Mark Angelwing

Question Mark Angelwing
If you look closely at the hind wing, you can see a small, white, upside-down ? mark.
These are usually found around wood piles~

Question Mark Angelwing

Comma Angelwing
(Hop Merchant Polygonia comma)
 This photo was taken by my son.  He told me that the Question Mark Angelwing was back so I told him to go ahead and take a photo, without really checking it out.  I was busy planting some milkweed for my new Monarch habitat.  I didn't realize until I loaded onto my labtop that it isn't a Question Mark, it's a Comma. If you look closely at the hind wing, you will see a comma w/o the dot.  The markings on the wing are also different.  I hope it comes back tomorrow so that I can get a photo w/ it's wings open~

Saturday, September 18, 2010


September 2nd 2010
Monarch caterpillar eating the leaves from butterfly weed.

Sorry for the lack of focus ~ caught this Monarch at a Monarch watch, tagged it and set it free

A little girl trying to catch her first Monarch ~ it got away :(

These are two Chrysalis' were at the Monarch watch and the Monarch in the background hatched while we were there.  Unfortunately, I missed the event.  It happens in just a few short minutes.

This is where I found my Chrysalis hiding.  (from the caterpillar at the beginning of this post ) The sedum (of Frog bellies - as my Mom used to call them) is planted next to the Butterfly week that he had been feeding on.

Monarch Chrysalis found in my garden on September 18th, 2010
Hopefully I will be able to add more photos as it turns into a butterfly!
I will then tag it (picked up at the watch today) and set it free for it's trip to Mexico!

A great website for more information on Monarchs is:

Well, much has happened in two days:  While on a walk last evening, I came across 4 Milkweed plants along the side of the road and decided to try to transplant them in one of my gardens.  I  checked for any bad leaves or bugs and came across a Monarch caterpillar!  I put him in the container with the Chrysalis and gave him some Milkweed leaves to eat.  This morning I decided to inspect the plants a little more thoroughly and found at least 45 little eggs!  So... off to the pet store I went to find a large critter keeper ~ I may need more if a lot of the eggs hatch! It takes only 3-5 days after the eggs are laid for them to hatch ~ so I guess I'll know soon.   I will try posting any events I am able to catch.  The eggs are pretty amazing.  They are about the size of a pin head and look like little tiny pearls.  I read that usually the female Monarch only lays one egg per plant ~ I guess she had no choice since there were only 4 around. The Chrysalis still has not hatched but seems to be getting darker.  Hopefully that just means that it will be happening soon and not that the butterfly has died, which happens sometime, I read :(  The Monarch ~ once hatched, normally lives 4-8 weeks - except for the ones who hatch just before migration time.  They can live from September until April.  It has something to do with their ability to mate being temporarily delayed until they get to Mexico.  The warmer temperatures in Mexico will let them mature enough to start mating.

This is the caterpillar that was on the Milkweed I found along side the road.

Stay tuned to see what happens!

Sad news, the Chrysalis I found in my garden died.  It succumb to a Tachinid fly ~ I saw a string hanging from it and a brown, bean looking thing laying on the bottom of the critter keeper.  I checked these things on-line and found out that it was dead :(

My caterpillar has started the process of morphing into a butterfly!  He will hang in this "J" formation for about a day and then start shedding his skin.  He started this process around 7pm this evening and was hanging by 9pm.

This is what I came home from work to find the next day (9-23-10)
It was still a caterpillar around 2:30pm when my boyfriend came home but by 5:30, it was done. 
It still doesn't have the gold look to the lines yet ~ it's only yellow at this point.

Now the gold is showing!  It will take 10-14 days for this to change into a butterfly.
Hopefully I will have better luck w/ this one.
No eggs have hatched yet :(

These aren't from my Chrysalis ~ I took these photos at a park on my way home from work today.  I stopped to check the milkweed for more caterpillars ~ no luck but did enjoy watching this beauty!

I also was able to tag my first Monarch from my gardens today.  I wasn't able to get a photo because he flew away while I was trying to turn him around for the photo.
Tag #NEC-715
I planted 20 Milkweed plants in a new section of my garden to start my own Monarch habitat!  I have seeds to plant in the spring also
This was taken 10-4-2010
You can start to see the monarch's wings through the casing of the chrysalis.

 These next few photos were taken on 10-5-10 ~ the day she hatched!

Here she is just starting to hatch~ It's amazing how there is a full size monarch inside the tiny chrysalis.

It's a blurry photo ~ sorry, I was a little excited during the process and couldn't really focus well.
The large part hanging below, is the monarchs abdomen.  It is full of a fluid that will shortly be pumped into the wings in order to inflate them.

 This is before her wings are pumped up.  They are still pretty crinkled.
This was taken a few short moments after she hatched.

She actually hung on this chrysalis casing for about 3 hours as her wings dried.

I used a red sharpie mark to draw a heart on her wing.

She is tagged and ready to go as soon as the temperatures get over 60 degrees.
Tag # NEC-716

The entire process was really amazing!
The chrysalis looked like it was getting darker yesterday, so I took the critter keeper into my office ~ just  in case.  Nothing happened yesterday.  Today, the chrysalis seemed to be see-through ~ I knew it wouldn't be long, so again I took it with me to work.  Everyone seemed pretty excited about what was happening, even my patients got into it.  I had a full schedule with only a 10 minute window from 12 - 12:10pm.  I was getting my room set up for my next patient when I noticed the casing was starting to open.  I called the other team members in to watch.  It went really fast and I think I was shaking the whole time.  I photographed the hatching but unfortunately, they didn't turn out very focused ~ I think because of the shaking.  It is a female, so I named her Lucy. You can tell the sex by looking at the width of the veins in the wings.  If the veins are wide ~ it's a female.  The males have thinner veins w/ black spots along the veins on the hind wings.   She clung to her chrysalis casing for about 3 hours while her wings dried out.  Then she started flapping her wings ~ I'm sure she really wanted to try them out but it was too chilly out to let her go.  I also wanted to tag her before setting her on her journey to Mexico.  I finish work tomorrow around 3pm so hopefully the sun will be shining and the temperature will be up a little.  I hate keeping her cooped up in the critter keeper but I want to make sure she has the best chance at survival.  I'll try to post photos of her release.
I also sent off tonight to have my garden certified as a Monarch habitat for next year~  plant some monarch seeds in the spring and keep your eyes open!  I do have some extra seed, so if you'd like some, let me know or you can get some from " "