Saturday, July 20, 2013

Monarch rearing

I have started my monarch rearing for this year.  I was lucky enough to find 9 eggs so far, one on a milkweed plant down my road and the rest on the milkweed in my yard.  I was also lucky enough to be able to video one of the eggs hatching!  Here is a link to my video on youtube and a few photos.

I was very upset to find that the county mowed down all the milkweed along the road I live on a few days ago.  There must have been at least 30 plants.  If it starts coming back up in time for the monarchs to use it, I will put signs in front of it ~ PLEASE DO NOT MOW DOWN THE MILKWEED.  I was actually kind of sick to the stomach when I first noticed it.  They have no idea how important milkweed is to saving the monarch population that migrates to Mexico.  Even more importantly in my area, as the ones that hatch in this area are the 4th generation that do the migrating.  So if you see milkweed growing in you yard or on your road, do whatever you can to protect it! 
Thank you for visiting ~ and plant some milkweed!

Viceroy and other butterflies ~

A few days ago, I was sitting on my front porch, drinking my coffee, enjoying watching a few butterflies on one of my butterfly bushes, when I notice what I thought was a monarch on it.  I grabbed my camera and when I got closer, I realized it wasn't a monarch at all.  I was a Viceroy!  The very first one I have ever seen, other than at a butterfly house.  I also saw two of them the next day at a little park about 10 miles away, that has a naturalized butterfly area.  There really seems to be a huge decrease in the number of butterflies I am seeing in my yard so far this year.
Today I saw three Tiger Swallowtails, a few skippers, and a few Clearwing hummingbird moths on my largest butterfly bush ~ in the past, I have had as many as a dozen Swallowtails on it at one time.


Great Spangled Frittilary

Red spotted purple

Black Swallowtail ~ male

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail

Black Swallowtail ~ male

Eastern tailed blues


Clearwing hummingbird moths ~ multi-tasking!

Red spotted purple

Clearwing hummingbird moth

Silver spotted skipper

Silver spotted skipper

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail ~ female

Fiery skipper

Eastern tailed blue

Clearwing hummingbird moth

Easter Tiger Swallowtail ~ male

Eastern tailed blue

Eastern tailed blue

This is a garden art deal I purchased at my favorite nursery.
I had been noticing it for years and happened to mention how much I liked it to the gal behind the register.  She looked for a price tag but couldn't find one.  It definitely had some wear (Patina) on it, which gave it a little more character.  She said she'd give it to me for $10.  I couldn't pass it up!
Now it rests in the upper part of my backyard, in the area I let go wild,  throw in some divided plants and wildflower seeds.
Thanks for visiting !


I saw a male bluebird trying to entise a female to build a nest for him.  I will take a look in the box in a few days to see if she decided to accept him as her mate.  After the last nest of bluebirds fledged earlier this summer, I cleaned out the old nest and sprayed the box with Clorox, left the door open for it to dry, then it was all ready for the next family to move in!  I put mealworms out everyday to try to keep them in my yard!  I buy live mealworms at Petsmart ~ 100 of them for about $5.  I tried the freeze dried ones a few years ago, but they wouldn't eat them.  I store the container of mealworms in my garage refrigerator to keep them alive and fresh.

Carolina wrens ~

The Carolina wrens chicks have fledged.  I had just taken a final photo of them in the nest, went in for dinner, and when I went back out side, I heard a lot of chirping going on.  The parents were coaxing their little ones to spread their wings and fly!  I grabbed my camera in time to catch the last little one making it's first flight.  First it flew into the sturdy lilac tree, then to the not so sturdy butterfly bush.  I hope they hang around for awhile!

Thanks for visiting!

Friday, July 12, 2013

Monarch season has begun!

I was out walking this evening in search of more Spicebush swallowtail caterpillars (found one!) and thought I'd check out a few milkweed plants along my road. I must have searched 20 plants and finally found one egg!  I got home and in the rain, decide to check out a few if my plants. I found 5 eggs before it started raining harder and getting darker. I can't wait until the morning to search for more!!!  I really hope to photograph a monarch laying the eggs so that I have photos of the complete cycle!  Here is the photo of my first egg!
The photo was taken with a microscope attachment for my iPhone. I bought it on Amazon for $5.00. 
Hope to be able to take an image of the egg hatching!  Take care all and get out there and plant some milkweed!

Carolina wrens

The babies seem to be doing well. Momma and Daddy seen to be sharing the load of feeding them. I guess it won't be long before they fledge and start making nests if their own?

Monday, July 8, 2013

More Black Swallowtails!

This morning I was talking to my Mom on the phone while on my morning run/walk.  I was still talking to her as I got home and went over to sit on the deck steps to rest, when I noticed a black swallowtail flying around in the direction of my herb garden.  I ran inside and grabbed my camera and was lucky enough to catch her laying eggs on the fennel.  She really searched around it, trying to find a safe, secluded spot.  She took a few breaks, going to feed on the Mexican sunflower in a nearby flower bed and then went back to lay a few more.  She laid 7 in all, or at least that's all I could find.  Here are a few of the pictures I was able to take.  This was a first for me! 

The first group of eggs, earlier this spring produced 18 butterflies so far, with 2 chrysalis' still to hatch of these Black Swallowtails.  This female could have been one from that group ~ wouldn't that be great?!    I will continue raising these eggs and any more I find.  I am also currently raising Spicebush Swallowtails, if you haven't seen my previous posts about them.  The caterpillars for those are really neat looking.  I have one that is a chrysalis, 2 hanging - that should be chrysalis' by tonight or tomorrow, 2 large green cats, and one small brown cat to go.  I am always looking for more while on my walks.  Luckily, there are plenty of spicebushes, sassafras, and other host trees along the road I live on.  They are very hard to find though, as they like to hide during the day and feed at night.  I am anxiously waiting for the monarchs to come to my area.  I have more milkweed planted in my yard this year and have seen alot growing along the road I live on.  I have ordered 100 tags for my monarchs this year from "Monarch Watch" out of Kansas University.  I ordered 50 last year but raised 66.  I'm hoping to use up all my tags this year!  I have my mother hooked on raising butterflies now too!  I have read many posts on how other people raise their butterfly caterpillars, seems everyone has their own way of doing it.  The way I do it is farely easy.  I use the little watering tubes that you get from the florist to keep their food fresh and have different sizes of plastic critter keepers.  I keep them in the smaller containers until they get big enough to put in my large cage.  My large cage is made similarly to a rabbit cage, totally screened in so that they can't escape!  I do have the Spicebush caterpillars in their own large cage, since their food source is different.  It really is a lot of fun raising them and a great hobby for anyone, of any age!  One hint though, ALWAYS wash your hands before handling their food or the caterpillars. 
Hope I inspire more people to start!
Thanks for visiting ~   )!(

Sunday, July 7, 2013


I'm so excited to see so much milkweed growing along the roads in my area. There are even fields of milkweed, more so than I have seen in the past few years. Hopefully they won't be mowed down so that the monarchs can find a lot if host plants and make a huge comeback. The numbers of monarchs over-wintering in Mexico is way down. Part of the problem us due to the road crews mowing along the sides of the road and the farmers spraying insecticides. I can understand the latter because of the damage insects can do on their crops but, it is still part of the issue. So if you have any milkweed growing on your property, let it grow! Better yet, get some seeds and plant some!  For some who aren't sure what milkweed looks like, here are a few images if the common milkweed you can easily spot!
Thanks for visiting and please stop back!

First Spicebush Swallowtail chrysalis

My first Spicebush swallowtail cat has made it's chrysalis successfully!  I currently have 4 more cats of different stages to go. I have really enjoyed raising these cats because of their unique cartoonish features. Here are a few images of the chrysalis and the other cats. 
This last cat should be turning green by tomorrow !  The chrysalis should hatch in another 7-10 days!  
As a side note ~ not all eggs found under leaves are worth collecting. I found this egg the other night and this crazy looking thing came out of it. Luckily I kept it in a separate dish, since I wasn't sure what was inside !

Yikes!  Thanks for visiting! }!{ 

Spicebush swallowtail cat

Here are a few shots of my Spicebush swallowtail cats! I now have 2 green cats, 2 smaller brown cats and one itty bitty baby I found last evening!
I tried uploading a short video, but doesn't seem to be an option from my phone. 
Thanks for visiting and Happy 4th of July!  🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸