May 22, 2016

Monarch Butterflies: 2016 edition

I don’t think I ever finished documenting last year’s butterfly adventures.  The short story version:  more baby caterpillars showed up in our yard in November.  Which was weird.  Monarchs aren’t supposed to be mating and laying eggs in the “winter”.  These caterpillars remained caterpillars way longer than the prescribed 10-14 days, and the chrysalids remained chrysalids for 30 & 33 days, respectively (also way longer than normal).  When temperatures outside dropped below freezing, we brought the chrysalids indoors. 

monarch butterfly life cycle-1monarch butterfly life cycle-2monarch butterfly life cycle-3monarch butterfly life cycle-4

Since this monarch emerged on a cold rainy day, we kept her inside overnight to dry out.  Big Dude jimmy-rigged a warming light onto the banana stock we’d chopped down in our backyard (after the wind blew over our banana tree). 

monarch butterfly life cycle-5

We released her the next day during a sunny couple of hours…

monarch butterfly life cycle-6monarch butterfly life cycle-7monarch butterfly life cycle-8

Because those winter caterpillars (9 of them all together) lived so long, they decimated our milkweed.  I’ve since bought a few plants from Lowe’s and thrown a bunch of seed here and there.  Which brings us to present day.  We’ve had caterpillars since early May.  They have turned our yard into their very own chrysalid playground (taking over chairs, pottery, plants, pipes, & window frames).  As of today, we have 7 chrysalids.  We should have butterflies emerging within the next week.

monarch butterfly life cycle-9monarch butterfly life cycle-10monarch butterfly life cycle-11monarch butterfly life cycle-12monarch butterfly life cycle-13monarch butterfly life cycle-14

I’m sure the dudes all think I’m totally nutso.  But they do a great job helping me hunt down the chrysalids.  And hey, it’s cheap entertainment.

3 comments:

Anita Johnson said...

I love this post. Because of my medical issues, I will have to enjoy butterflies from people that go outside. I have not seen a butterfly yet this season. And November seems really late. Your photos are so very beautiful....so glad you can record what I love. Glad God reveals himself through creation.

Rebeckah Leatherman said...

No one could ever think you are nutso. No way : ).

I love the word picture of a butterfly playground. I am always on the lookout for caterpillars because of you.

Jill Mross said...

Just love this "story" - especially the photo showing her (the monarch) being kept warm overnight and out-of-the-rain. Thanks Susan (and Big Dude).