Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Monarch rearing 2011

 Chrysalis just before hatching becomes clear and you can see the monarch's wings through it!

 The abdomen of the monarch is filled with a fluid that it will pump into it's wings to inflate them.

 I had relocated the chrysalis to a tree branch that I placed in a pot filled with rocks.  It can be a little tricky removing it from where it was initially attached.  You have to be sure to pull at the silk part and not at the cremaster (stem) because it can easily break off.  The chrysalis must hang for the butterfly to form correctly.  You are able to handle the chrysalis a few hours after it is made.
 My first monarch was tagged and release on Monday August 22nd.
Tag # PBM 425
 It's a male!  You can tell be the two dark spots on the hind wings.

 This photo turned out kind of neat.  It was so bright outside that it was hard to get a great photo but with a little playing around on photoshop, I ended up with this! My son was holding the monarch!

Here he is hanging on my butterfly bush.  He hung around for about an hour after being released and then flew way up into the nearby treetops.  I hope he makes it to Mexico!

I still have 5 chrysalis, 5 in "J" formation, and 3 cats that will be close behind.
I also have 14 more cats in varies stages and 3 more eggs.
Hopefully I'll  have reared at least 31 Monarchs in the end ~ more if I find more eggs!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

More wings in my garden!

Not quite sure what's on her beek ~ hope it's not a wort :)

This is my favorite hummer this year!  She's really little, so I'm guessing she was just born this spring.
She is very friendly and hangs around quite a bit ~ at least until her brother comes along and chases her away.  I call her "Tink"!
And last but not least, the buckeyes are starting to show up again!

Monarch rescue ~

Just to preface these next few photos ~ I stopped by a local park with my son two weeks ago to check out the "disc golf" course (a sport he just picked up).  While we were walking around the course, I notice a pond with milkweed growing around it!  I found a couple monarch eggs on one of the plants and decided that we would come back the next day ~ for my son to play on the course and for me to look for more eggs or caterpillars!  We arrived at the park around 11am and found that someone had just weed whacked down all the milkweed plants.  My heart sank ~ I spent the next hour, going around and inspecting all the plants that had been chopped down.  I ended up finding 40 eggs and 1 full grown caterpillar!  I had found a few eggs on my plants at home as well, with a total of 45 eggs.  We were leaving the next evening for vacation so I had my neighbor watch the caterpillar for me and I placed a large sprig of swamp milkweed (with a watering tube)  in the box with the eggs. We returned in 5 days to find 13 eggs had hatched.  Unfortunately, the others didn't.  The large caterpillar had made it's chrysalis the day after we left!  I have written to the park officials concerning the milkweed.  There is such a shortage of monarchs in our area and they are only making the problem worse. 

I cut a small part of the leaf around the eggs and placed them on a damp paper towel.

This is the full grown cat that I found~ and now as it's chrysalis.  I detached it from the lid of the cage and glued it to a tree branch placed in a flowerpot of stones, and set it inside the butterfly observation house.  I'll post a photo of it later when there are more on it!

Here are a few of the cats on the swamp milkweed.

I found 6 more eggs on some milkweed grown along the road yesterday.  My family thinks I'm nuts, but the cats are so vulnerable to bees and birds out in the open like that.

This is one of the newly hatched cats~  I have to use a magnifying glass to get a good look at them!

Please plant milkweed!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

A few more shots of the hummingbirds~

The hummingbirds have been quite active lately! 
 The other night, one of the males and a female were putting on quite a show for me.  They were flying around the feeder together, then they would fly straight up in the air and fly right back down.  They would then circle the feeder, take a sip, and head straight back up in the air.  They did this about ten times~  Unfortunately, I couldn't focus my camera on them because they were moving too fast ~ they are so amazing!

This next shot was pure luck!

Oh, I received my tags for tagging monarch this week!!!
Now I just need to find some caterpillars to rear!