Tuesday, August 14, 2012

99 in the Shade

I am up to 99 Monarchs as of today! Despite my expectations that this would be a much better season, I think I have had more healthy butterflies and fewer caterpillar deaths. So low number- yes, disappointing- yes, better results -YES! 
One of the males released last week has staked out the garden- yet again, in hopes to attract a girlfriend. so I am expecting eggs this week.  
On Sunday I was out in the garden and 2 monarchs flew past me mating! Sorry. they flew away before I could get a shot but I included last year's photo

I have a few pix for you today.  

awe butterfly love!
cats. from the plastic container to the aquarium, next stop the garden!
cats. in the plastic containers that they start out in as eggs, they are ready to move now, 
Number 99!

hmmm where's  lunch? 

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Slowly but Surely

Well it is the second week of August and I should be swimming in caterpillars and cat. eggs. And caterpillar poop ;) To say this has been a dry season is an understatement. I have in total collected just about 125 eggs and cats for the whole summer. I have been raising cats. in small batches. All in all that has been easier. Albeit very disappointing. I have had 3 male monarchs stake out my garden as territory for mating but no females have found them. There is one here now and I am hoping that one of the 4 females I released this weekend will come back. In an effort to "remind" the ladies that this is a safe haven for caterpillars, I take the butterflies outside and the first plant they touch is my tropical milkweed. I have no scientific basis for my theory that if they touch the mw first they will come back here to lay eggs, but I figure that it won't hurt my chances.
Last week at work I had some luck collecting. We moved a number of small butterfly container gardens from one facility to another (thanks to my #1 assistant Josh and Mike for taking such good care of the flowers!) due to an upcoming construction project. 24 hours later I was at the pool watering the containers and low and behold who comes floating in? A monarch, of course, but it was a male. "Whatever", I said to myself. I kept on watering and it flew off and then back again only this time it was female and she began laying eggs. So I began following her and collecting. At one point she flew up in front of me and fluttered in front of my face for a moment and then went to the nearest mw and began laying eggs again. This is not the first time this has happened to me. I always feel as thought they know what I am doing and know their progeny will be safe. I am not the only butterfly gardener this has happened too. I know others who have observed this phenom. Keep in mind that these containers were out on a patio all summer that was rarely visited by people and butterflies, apparently. We moved them and boom. When I returned to the same container gardens 3 days later I found 2 cats. that I missed before and began watering...about an hour into it a terribly faded monarch floated into the area and chose one planter and laid many eggs there for me to find. I collected a few, she flew off, I would go back to watering, she would come back, then I would collect a few more, she flew off. This went on for over and hour and every time I went in to collect she'd fly off, when I was finished she'd come back. Pretty cool, huh?