The studio "tidy-up" continues at a slow pace. Our weather is drawing me out into the garden and it's that interesting, exciting time of the year when fostering up monarch butterflies becomes one of my primary activities.
I've managed to find a few eggs on the undersides of my common milkweed plants.
This year, I've left them on the plants watching every morning for this -- the tiny hatchlings eating a hole for their first meal.
The netting shelter is hanging on the back porch with a bouquet of milkweed that gets changed every morning or more often with the gang munching away.
It only takes about 10 days to go from that tiny creature that is hard to see to these fat ones that are hard to miss!!
And when they get this size, we know it won't be long!!
Soon they'll head up to the top of the enclosure.
Once they attach themselves to the ceiling, they hang for about a day.
And the next time I look -- a chrysalis!!
There are seven in my enclosure right now and a new batch of wee ones (10) that I discovered a couple evenings ago while watering and peering under leaves!
Next week we'll be able to begin to release the first batch as they emerge.
Because monarch butterflies migrate, they get a lot of media attention and their sharply decreasing numbers have alarmed many scientists. Right now, there is a new initiative launching through the central USA to replant wild summer flowers such as the milkweeds to reverse the trend for monarchs and other insects.
There's lot of information on the internet but my favorite source is Monarch Watch. If you are on Facebook, you can also look for the page "Milk the Weed" -- it has lots of interesting links if you are interested in increasing the number of native plants and insects in your yard which will usually lead to more birds in your yard. And this is a link to a list of native plants that various butterfly caterpillars eat for the USA!!
But you'll have to give up the pesticides and the herbicides -- you can plant the most spectacular butterfly garden in the world and it's all for naught. I wish more of my neighbors would abandon their green deserts and join me in enjoying the insects and all they do for us!!
Back to the tidying!!
My hanging enclosure for rearing the caterpillars comes from http://www.educationalscience.com/index.php/