Wednesday, September 3, 2014

So a little bit more about my operation: The first step to raising healthy monarch butterflies is to have plenty off food for your caterpillars (cats.)  I prefer feeding them tropical milkweed, an annual in my NW Indiana garden. I plant it in pots so i can easily pick them up and look at the undersides of the leaves for eggs. Don't forget to look at the tops of the leaves and around the flower buds.  Tiny cats. will hide among the buds. I plant about 5 seedlings in each pot. It was suggested to my, by a friend, that the monarchs sometimes like brand new baby plant to lay eggs. I potted up some midseason seedlings and it did the trick. I saw an increase in egg laying immediately. As of tonight my collection total for the summer is 1,157!

Once you know what you are looking for, collecting is easy.

The eggs are very easy to see.

When I bring the eggs in the house, they go right into hatching boxes. These are just plastic storage boxes. They need to be big enough that there is good air in there. Open daily to get fresh air inside. A piece of damp (not wet) paper towel goes on the bottom of the box. You must keep the leaf moist and supple until the egg hatches. 

This season I moved my operation indoors because the weather here has not been favorable to using my cat. house. Plus hubby promised to build a better one for me. So into the tiny utility room they went. I use 10 G aquariums on end to accommodate tall stems of mw and vases with small openings. I prevent cats. from falling into the water by using ones with small opening and I jam a wad of waxpaper in the opening to secure the stems and seal the water.

Sometimes there are too many eggs for my hatching boxes and I have to improvise. This is only temporary, once a box frees up it is sterilized and the eggs are moved up to the larger container. It is so important to not overcrowd the cats. Overcrowding  can cause bacterial contamination that kills. Clean your containers Everyday to prevent this. It will be necessary to move the cats. out of the box to do the cleaning. 
That's all for tonight!

Hello Friends, It seems that I have been neglecting my blog. My apologies. The reason why is incredible. Let's start with last season...I only found 50 monarch eggs in my garden the Whole season (may-Sept). I think back and I only saw about 3 monarchs the whole season. As you can imagine it was depressing.
This year is so much better! I have seen butterflies in my garden almost every day, for weeks! I started collecting eggs in the third week of May and also got a few cats. (caterpillars) from my friend Bob. Since then I have had many batches of caterpillars. I have, as of last night, collected 1153! However as of today I have releases only 211 healthy butterflies. I had A lot of cat. deaths early on and a few diseased butterflies that I had to euthanize. Very sad, I know, but in practical terms if the butterfly is diseased it may spread the disease to others. I do have about 300 cats in play right now so this may help my survival ratio. 

I will write more tonight I promise- I really need to go clean all the cat. containers and aquariums right now. 
 Eggs start off in plastic containers to keep the leaves alive while the egg develops. Once they hatch, they should be given a new leave to feed on because the old one will get moldy, dry out or get consumed.
 These Chrysalids are all hatched now, part of the big batch of 25 on Monday.
 They make their chrysalis in maddening places sometimes
This is what it is all about, releasing healthy monarchs for the migration