Our Butterfly Project – Update #5

Good morning butterflies! Good morning caterpillars! This is a pretty common thing in our house these days, greeting all of our little friends that share our space, however temporarily. Wyatt still remains more in love with the caterpillars than the butterflies, but the magic of a watching a butterfly emerge from the chrysalis then fly away into the wind never gets old to me.

Last week all of our butterflies emerged from their chrysalis! At the time of my last posting, we had 14 monarchs in chrysalis, and 1 black swallowtail. As of today, that group, which I am calling The Toad Hole group after my friend Kelly’s house’s “name”, are all living their lives, free and wild and gathering nectar and hopefully creating more butterflies.

One morning I woke up to 6 butterflies! I actually had to work that morning, but I work for my cousin, and he is working from home these days, so I took them with me to release there. You have to give them some time to allow their wings to dry, and they would be ready while I was working. So, the butterflies went with me. And as a bonus, his daughters were there too, and got to watch and help out.

Although I had to laugh at myself, driving with a car of butterflies. I wonder what they thought, if anything?

So last week was all about these beautiful creatures – releasing them and collecting eggs for the most part.

I am planning on keeping a running tally though for those who are interested of the number of butterflies released, either in the sidebar or somewhere else. Maybe a whole dedicated page? I’ll have to see what works best. I am also hoping to start tagging monarchs, but I need to order the tags today or it won’t happen. If I do, it would be really cool to see if my blog friends down in Texas find any of the monarchs that I release! Tagging happens in the fall, we will see if I can order the tags today, since I think today is the last day to order!

So, the breakdown of butterflies last week:

14 released monarchs : 5 female (Janet, Scarlet, Wendy, Penny, and Freya) 9 male Larry, George, Peter, Frank, Captain, Loki, Odin, Thor, Fenrir.

1 released Black Swallowtail – male, Cavendish

If you are wondering why I am doing this, here is a great article. I can’t imagine a world without butterflies, can you? I remember going to Jack Miner in Canada as a child, and seeing trees just covered in monarchs and thinking it was the most amazing, wonderful, enchanted thing I had seen. I want to take Wyatt one day so he can feel that too.

Our Butterfly Project – Post #2

So at last count, last update here I had three huge mongo Black Swallowtail (BST) caterpillars, and three tiny bebe caterpillars. I also had one Luna Moth cocoon. Things have changed.

Last Wednesday, we had mom’s night at my friend Kelly’s house. Besides having a blast with my crew, l left with four monarch caterpillars and one tiny BST caterpillar. Kelly has been rearing butterflies and caterpillars for years, but she is getting her kitchen entirely remodeled and couldn’t take these littles in right now. So I took them home!

This is what they looked like last Wednesday when I brought them home.

This is how they look today, a week later.

They are getting so big! I will be running around getting milkweed to feed them multiple times a day soon, as they will start munching through the leaves faster and faster. Then they will go into chrysalis! Monarchs have a beautiful chrysalis so I am excited to see them.

As for the black swallowtails, we have all but one in chrysalis! Their process is a bit different. They find a spot, and it happens slowly, where a monarch is sort of quicker and more explosive. I took pictures at four intervals of one of the BST’s going into chrysalis, and it is pretty neat. They pick a spot, glom on, make a silk string sling, and then sort of turn into the chrysalis slowly. I am not sure of the science behind it but it is crazy to watch.

As for our Luna Moth cocoon – it hatched! They only live a few days, and have no mouths. They only live long enough to reproduce and that is it.

We kept it in the enclosure for a day or two then released it on the night of the full Strawberry moon – it just felt appropriate for a Luna Moth. It was also International Fairy Day, and I was thinking – if it were hundreds of years ago, before scientific understanding of creatures, and I saw one of these moths, I could see myself thinking I was maybe seeing a fairy. A little fanciful, but can you see it too?

So as of today, we have four hungry monarch caterpillars, five BST in chrysalis, and one BST baby that is growing! I am hoping that by next Wednesday’s update I will have a few more chrysalis hanging around!

If you missed the first post, you can find it here!