Sunday, September 26, 2010

My First Butterly Release!

Today I volunteered butterflies and a few hours of my time at the 40th anniversary celebration of the Valpo Visiting Nurses Association. It was a very nice event with reminiscing on the humble origins of the association and the importance of hospice. I have known a few families who have used hospice and my sis-in-law was a hospice nurse for 10 years. So I know what a wonderful, compassionate and important service it is. Congratulations VNA! We gave away many packages of milkweed seeds today and I hope they will all get planted because the more milkweed planted the more monarchs will come to our area and lay eggs!

I met two new friends today who also raise monarchs. Lisa, Jane and I combined our butterflies and a few from other friends, to create a really beautiful release. In total we released about 60 butterflies. All the visitors who stopped by our display were so amazed at our endeavor of raising butterflies. Well we just love doing it. In fact Jane said "Yeah they are my pets." Mine too! This has been a long 3 months, lots of hours cleaning caterpillar frasse and covering the cat. house in the rain, searching for clean milkweed, searching for eggs, I can't imagine spending this summer doing anything else. I can't wait until next summer! I have such big plans for my garden in order to make my butterfly garden even more butterfly friendly!

I have included some photos of today's event and my last caterpillar!

Friday, September 17, 2010

And Caterpillar Season Winds Down...

So cat. season is winding down, There are only three more feeding and 2 making their chrysalis, probably tonight. I have about 35 chrysalis I am waiting paitiently to elcose soon. I am a little concerned because tha last 5 butterflies or so have eclosed and not been healthy. I don't know what is going to happen to these last chrysalis. I really hope they hatch healthy. I certainly feel like I haven't seen a healthy butterfly in my cat. house in a while.
On the other hand I can't wait for next year! I have lots of plans for attracting more monarchs and swallowtails to my garden. New combo planters, big patch of dill and lots more milkweed. I am going to grow Tagetes tenuifolia (tiny marigolds) because they have a lot more fragrance than normal garden marigolds. This is supposed to keep flies away and with milkweed comes aphids and with aphids come flies- yuk. So that is a few of the changes I will make. If I fill up my large ceramic pots with tropical (red) milkweed and dill, it won't leave a lot of room for my beloved geraniums, well maybe just a few...
A few picture from the last week...
Happy Talk like a Pirate Day!

Grrrr! Arrrrggg

Ahhhh that backbend feeeels good!

See the seam on the chrysalis? It almost looks like the stiching on a baseball huh? The part on the left is the flap that will open first when the butterfly ecloses.

My one and only black swallowtail butterfly chrysalis. It will stay in the cat. house all winter in the garage. Unless it hatches soon which would be bad.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Still Going Strong....

A Chrysalis about 12 hours before eclosing, notice the air pocket around the butterfly?

Butterfly number 251 hanging out for a little while on my sweet autumn clematis.

Peek a boo!

Feeding the monarchs that I had to keep for a few days.

Molting time!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

I have begun collecting again....

monarchs sunning themselves on a chilly morning "Hey watch out! I was here first! Find your own sunny branch!"

note the wing pattern on both chrysalis' A newly formed chrysalis (right) and one that hatched (left) not too long after this photo was taken.

ahh that sunshine feels niccce! Today's first b-fly, sunning herself on the outside of the caterpillar house.

a monarch eclosing from the chrysalisA newly hatch monarch from today
Hello Peeps, I can safely say that my monarch raising is back on track. After loosing 38 cats. (which was really sad), I left it all alone for a week and did not collect anymore eggs/ cats. Mostly because I didn't see very many in the garden- strike that I couldn't find any! So I thought I was winding down for the season. I have 2 cats in the cat house right now. One is resting before pupating and the other little guy- bless him- he is eating ravenously. So a friend of mine brought me a few cats. because she needed a sitter for the weekend (thanks Sara! ) and I took them hoping whatever killed the others would not strike these too. I have sterilized all of my containers and keeping all new additions quarantined until every cat gets big enough to move into the caterpillar house. My hope is renewed! Friday evening I spent a while out in the garden sitting on the ground scouring all of my milkweed plants to see if there were any cats. or eggs. Lo and behold- I found 16 caterpillars! Today I went out again and found 4 more and 4 eggs. YAY! The only drawback to that method is all of the aphid ick that gets on you and under your nails- ewwww!