Save the Monarchs!

Discussion in 'Butterfly / Moth' started by Ronni, Sep 24, 2016.

  1. Ronni

    Ronni Hardy Maple

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    Paige put in a butterfly garden at the beginning of the season. Lots of different plants to attract butterflies, especially Milkweed because it's favored by the Monarch and they're endangered.

    13435563_10155029386769408_9219350188392793341_n.jpg

    She was SO excited to see the first butterfly a few months back!!!

    14022190_10155214552924408_5878154146193983279_n.jpg
    The kids have been so excited to see the butterflies too. They also helped plant the garden, water and nurture it, and have been fully involved. Paige has been telling them all about how there will be caterpillars, and the cocooning process, and showing them pictures of what that would look like, but cautioned them that the garden is still so new that they wouldn't be seeing any caterpillars till probably next season, or maybe even the one after.

    But then this happened!!!!!
    14330169_10155324381214408_4239770805202848150_n.jpg

    And the more she looked, the more she found!! The entire family was SO excited.. Yay!!! Save The Monarch!!! :D Paige decided to bring one of the cats inside so that the kids could actually see, up close and personally, the transformation of caterpillar to chrysalis to butterfly.
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    But then there was drama! There were so many caterpillars that they eventually wiped out the entire collection of milkweed! What had been several full, leafy plants was reduced to bare stalks. Oh no! She gathered up the caterpillars and brought them all inside, and started feeding them some well researched alternate sources of food with limited success. I mean, a good part of the reason Monarchs are endangered is because they typically will ONLY eat milkweed, and their food source is becoming more and more scarce. Anyway, while she was trying to keep them going with thin slices of butternut squash, I was calling around the various local nurseries frantically, trying to find someone with some milkweed plants still available.

    Finally found a source, she went and got the plants, and we put the cats back outside to feast on their food. But inexplicably, when she went out to check on them, she found less and less caterpillars. Were they being eaten? Were they wandering away for some reason. She watched and waited a bit more, but Clucky Mama that she is, the less she saw of the cats, the more worried she became, and she finally just decided to bring what was left back inside where she could watch over them and keep them safe.

    And THIS is the result of all her hard work!!!
    14364773_10155349885059408_6502777810062112158_n.jpg

    They cocooned over a period of time (one or two still haven't) and so will emerge similarly. Can't wait to see those gorgeous Monarchs in full flight.

    And well done to Paige who has done such a masterful job of doing her part to Save The Monarchs!! :heart::stew1:
     

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  3. Islandlife

    Islandlife Young Pine

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    Beautiful and a super terrific project all 'round for everybody to learn a little bit from

    :like: :like:
     
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  4. eileen

    eileen Resident Taxonomist Staff Member Moderator Plants Contributor

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    Well done Paige. If everyone planted some milkweed like you have I'm sure the Monarchs would soon be off the endangered list.
     
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  5. toni

    toni Mistress of Garden Junque Staff Member Moderator Plants Contributor

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    The caterpillars do not stay on the milkweed when it comes time to pupate, they find places where the chrysalis can hang in shade and somewhat hidden from predators. So when they are that large and suddenly disappear don't panic, it usually means they are moving on to the pupating stage.
    Wasps will eat the earlier stages of the larvae, so if they suddenly disappear when small they have usually been eaten.

    Milkweed plants are the only thing Monarch Caterpillars eat and yes a few will strip a plant clean in no time. Start filling that bed up with them for next year.
    The Monarch butterfly will dine on just about any nectar producing plant.
    Don't be surprised if the Monarchs to not hang around your area after they emerge, they will not survive winter weather and must continue their migration to Mexico. The last generation on the way down there will live 8-9 months without eating or breeding but when Spring arrives they will start flying north and start that seasons new generation on their way north.
     
    Last edited: Sep 26, 2016
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  6. Ronni

    Ronni Hardy Maple

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    Yeah, Paige figured that out. She found several more .... and literally laughed out loud at herself for her earlier concerns. ;) They did exactly what you said, toni...they just wandered off to find places to pupate. :smt043 14470558_10155358006889408_5183419609562207580_n.jpg 14449880_10155358608029408_4731398330545212481_n.jpg
     
  7. Sjoerd

    Sjoerd Mighty Oak

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    Super, super, super foto series, Ronni.
    I really enjoyed it.
     
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  8. Ronni

    Ronni Hardy Maple

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    They've all cocooned! (Plus the three outside) Now we wait ??[​IMG]

    14433202_10155371165174408_5172899731091428548_n.jpg
     
  9. Philip Nulty

    Philip Nulty Strong Ash

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    Ronni,..great adventures and fantastic results,..i will keep my fingers crossed for the Cocooned and the ones outside,..yeah,..well done Paige.
     
  10. Islandlife

    Islandlife Young Pine

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    That is super way cool. My grandkids would love it! ;)
     
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  11. 2ofus

    2ofus Hardy Maple

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    Your post really started me thinking so I looked to see if any of the Milkweed would live in my area...and :) there are a few plus one that is native! And they are pretty and small enough to be planted in my yard. I'll be ordering the seed for next year. Thank you and Paige for the inspiration!
     
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  12. Ronni

    Ronni Hardy Maple

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    Thanks guys. Mega-Kudos to Paige!! She is determined to do her part to save the Monarch population. She sent me a text yesterday, SO excited!!!

    Found another! That means they're all accounted for
    6 inside, 4 outside, 2 that the kids found. There were 12 originally


    I think statistically, that's pretty impressive. She counted 12 cats when she first noticed them on the milkweed in her butterfly garden, and all 12 have stuck around, didn't get eaten, didn't die, and have now cocooned!!
     
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  13. Islandlife

    Islandlife Young Pine

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    Impressive :) Going to be an interesting thread to follow as the Monarchs continue their cycle.
     
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  14. Ronni

    Ronni Hardy Maple

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    Yeah. We're impatient...it's been 10 days since the first one cocooned, and that's about the time frame for hatching. Hatching? Emerging? Um...staging a jail break? :D

    We're watching the jar closely for any signs of life!
     
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  15. Islandlife

    Islandlife Young Pine

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    I don't know the names of the stages but it'll be super cool if you can catch them 'in action' so to speak and get photos :)
     
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  16. Ronni

    Ronni Hardy Maple

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    It's starting to happen!!!! This was early yesterday......... 14522757_10155380188664408_8400605458056208450_n.jpg

    And by late in the afternoon it was noticeably darker, with more detail....
    14495311_10155381520354408_2686716057936016613_n.jpg
     

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