So much to update you on concerning the cats! I have released 12 monarch butterflies and 8 black swallowtail butterflies. Four of these butterflies turned out to be my wandering cats. They ended up making their chrysalis' on my dried hydrangea arrangement on the kitchen table! I sort of thought that would happen. Needless to say I learned my lesson to keep the lid on the aquarium from now on. Presently I have 11 cats in the aquarium of various sizes. My first batch of butterflies are almost all hatched and it may be a little while before I have more hatching.
When I change the old milkweed stems for new ones, I usually check them very carefully for small cats that may be hiding. Lately I have been dropping the leaves and stems into a bowl for the compost pile. Today when I went to go dump it, there was a small but healthy caterpillar sitting there on the wilted leaves. So into the aquarium it went. Whew, dodged that. This happened last summer a couple of times too.
I have been trying a little experiment this summer. I have a theory that if I take each female butterfly and place her directly on a swamp milkweed plant or carrot (black swallowtails) that she may return knowing that there is a host plant in my garden. Without tagging the little lovelies I cannot be sure it works. I can hope. Today I was pleasantly surprised that a female black swallowtail spent a while in my garden laying eggs! I can't be sure she is one of my releases but I hope she is. I collected 24 eggs from my dill and carrot plants. Now keeping the carrot and dill stems alive until the cats hatch is going to be a challenge. I may have to employ the hubby to check the vases when I can't. Dill stems are definitely not as hardy as milkweed.
A few days ago I saw two male monarchs tussling in the garden vying for territory. I does look strange two butterflies behaving like birds! I just hopes that this means that I will see more eggs soon!