Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Caterpillar Crazies!

the big reveal! Caterpillars shed their skin 5 times as they grow. The last time they molt is when they shed their skin and reveal the chrysalis.

resting in the 'J'
Before they shed their skin they rest in the "J" state for about a day. As they are hanging they are expanding their skin in preparation for it to split.

The Butterfly Tally is 148!!!!
There are 104 Chrysalis!

On my way home from work yesterday I called Lee (dh) to say hi. He asked when I would be home because the caterpillar house was out of food and the little guys were - literally- running all over the caterpillar house looking for food. So I advised him on how to fix that. When I got home- a few were still running about and had not found the new leaves yet. They were very hungry and as soon as they got onto a leaf they started munching. I fixed up a few new stems of milkweed from my garden for them. I was also looking for two very tiny cats. that had hatched from hidden eggs previously this week. I was hoping they had not been eaten by the really huge cats. They do this sometimes in situations of overcrowding and little food. I have not witnessed any cannibalism this summer but that doesn't mean it can't happen. I did find them. As I was cleaning the house I noticed many of the largest cats. were already hanging in their "J" on the roof. I counted up those cats.-22, the number of cats just resting up there- 9- number of chrysalis'- 79! In the next two weeks I will be having large numbers of butterflies hatching. I can't wait. The tally for released butterflies is 140 as of yesterday, Lee released them before I got home.

I mentioned in my last entry that the egg laying has slowed down. I found no new eggs yesterday so that is why I cut a few stems for the cats. out of my garden. I also discovered yesterday they one of my spots where I collected stems has been mowed :( So I need to search out another area for my remaining cats.

I Found a new caterpillar today, an anise swallowtail! I found it at work where I was weeding a clump of Queen Anne's lace. So I brought it home but I had a problem, how do I keep the QAL fresh? Luckily I had one of those little water tubes used for fresh flowers. They just were not big enough to put into a vase. If you look very close you can see the caterpillar.
trying to keep queen anne's lace alive

The other photo here is a vase I am using out in the cat. house. You need to keep the caterpillars from dropping into the water so covering the vase with plastic wrap and a rubberband works. A double works better than one. Pull the wrap taught and slice a small hole in it. When you push the stem of the milkweed plant through it will expand to the correct size. I also place a wad of wrap around the bottom of the stem to be sure.
vase system for milkweed

No comments:

Post a Comment