Tuesday, October 16, 2018

How I Spent My Summer Vacation - The Butterflies

Now that it appears I may have safely lived through one of my worst summers (worst summers so FAR - insert hysterical, as in she's lost her mind, laughter :-o), I am going to try to catch the blog up with at least some of the actually good parts from the past few months.  

I hate that I let the blog slip so far away.  I did keep the Instagram feed running all summer and I'm extremely thankful for that, but I'd much rather have the higher quality photographs from the "big girl camera" and more stories.  Even sad stories deserved to be told.

That being said, these next few posts may be more letting the pictures tell the stories, just in an effort to get them posted, but hopefully, as I get back into the routine of blogging, the rest will come back as well.  

How I Spent My Summer Vacation - The Butterflies

I think it was around mid July when I first heard about looking for and bringing in monarch butterfly eggs and caterpillars and raising them in a secure location away from mowers, chemical sprays, even predatory birds and other insects. 

It took some practice to spot them, but as the summer progressed, I got pretty good at it and ended up setting up a pretty big butterfly nursery on the back porch.  I lost track of how many I helped hatch, but there are a ton of pictures of the nursery and hatching butterflies on my Instagram feed.  

Watching eggs hatch into teeny tiny caterpillars who then grew and grew into big caterpillars who then transformed into the most beautiful green and gold chrysalises and finally hatched into beautiful butterflies never got old.  

The first to hatch here were actually brought in when Robin and Julie came to visit in August.  Three hatched the first morning they were here.  We gave them several hours to dry off and gather strength and then released them out by the Frog Pond.

This is a female.  You can tell by the two thick black diagonal lines and the clean lines on the lower wing patterning.

This is a male.  The diagonal lines are not as thick and there are two dots on the lower wing patterning.

The very next day, my first butterfly hatched :-).

It was very excited to get out and immediately flew up into a tree.

Is this a male or a female?

This is one of my favorite videos from the butterfly posts.  See, it wasn't all bad, Sara :-).


tpals said...

Entrancing. Now I have to look up how to spot the eggs.


What an awesome project--glad you had good results--
and now I know the difference in male and female butterflies and will have to check on my photos to see which I have-
thanks for the information-
enjoy, di

thecrazysheeplady said...

I'll look through and see if I have any egg pictures. I'm sure I do. If not, they are tiny white protrusions underneath milkweed leaves. Just carefully tip a leaf up and you may find them. Or you may find a tiny caterpillar, way smaller than you'd ever imagine. So cute!

Michelle said...

Glad to have you back here but seeing all that you posted on Instagram kept me feeling connected. :-D

Helen Mathey-Horn said...

This was my first summer to 'raise' monarchs. My best friend from school has been doing it for years. I do have an excuse, I was living overseas until retiring two years ago. Do you also record monarchs (also other species) on Journey North website? They use information/data collected by citizen scientists to track all kinds of animals. https://journeynorth.org/sightings/ And you can follow animal migrations. I try to send in Monarch and Hummingbird sightings.

Michelle said...

Love seeing these pictures. I also enjoyed keeping up with your adventures on social media, this summer :)

I need orange said...

Thank you for helping them. I've loved watching them on your IG.

knitski said...

Welcome back and sometimes a break from the blog is needed. Glad to have you back and love the photos!

Marsha said...

We got started late saving Monarchs when we kept noticing that the caterpillars and even chrysalis’s were disappearing from our planted milkweed and other plants. I ordered a book and cage for my husband while I was nursing my mom in a different state. We successfully raised 3 but hopefully it will be more next year. You did a great thing and hopefully your summer and my summer will be great next year.

Terry and Linda said...

What a fun, fun, fun thing to do! My hat is off to you, Sara!

Anonymous said...

i saw my first-ever caterpillars on our milkweed this summer. our old pasturefield milkweed plants disappeared a few years ago (sumac smothered one patch and water smothered another). but in the last three years, new patches have started at the edge of our hayfields or yard/garden areas, and this is the first year they've actually bloomed and had pods and caterpillars. there were six cats when i first spotted them, in about three lengths, but within a few days they had all disappeared. so then i started reading about their predators or predator problems, and they are such COMMON things - wasps, ants - it's a wonder that any cats survive, not even counting the disappearing habitat. so reading up on how to raise them myself is the top item on my winter bucket list. --suz in ohio

Grey Horse Matters said...

What a great project! They are beautiful.

thecrazysheeplady said...

I am not familiar with the Journey North website, but I'll check it out. Thanks!

If you scroll back through my Instagram feed from the summer you can look at all the different set ups I tried. I honestly liked the buckets the best because they were easy to see into and easy to clean up, but I think the mesh laundry baskets covering live plants were probably the most healthy for the caterpillars. Pros and cons for each and there are even more options online. Something fun to research for winter. Be prepared for more eating and pooping than you'd think. Be prepared for more amazement than you'd think :-).

sophy0075 said...

I worried when you didn’t post - but your Instagram photos made me feel better.

You are a Butterfly Heroine!

Marilyn F. said...

What a wonderful experience for you and for us to share in your experience through your blog. I didn't know you could collect eggs and hatch them like you have done. And who doesn't like butterflies!! I just saw in the news this week that we are suffering from a loss of bees and other insects, so your efforts are an inspiration for perpetuating of the species. Maybe others will follow your example.

Alice said...

Absolutely fascinating! I too am catching up!! Maybe next year I’ll join you!!


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