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?