Favorites August 2014

August 28th, 2014 4 Comments

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On the way home from a conference this summer my sister and I stopped in at the house of a friend.  She proceeded to lead us around her town of Mt. Vernon to inspect milkweed leaves and search for monarch eggs or larvae that could be brought in for safer incubation.  A few hours later each of us packaged up a little critter and instructions on how to be a good foster parent to a monarch then went our ways homeward.

Loss of summer breeding grounds and other factors have brought about a decline in the monarch population so it’s now recommended people bring in the eggs and caterpillars to provide a safe environment, increasing their chances of survival from about 10% to 90%.

 

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Monarch caterpillars only eat milkweed.  It contains all their needed nutrients, plus a bonus of toxic steriods (cardenolides) which after ingested give the caterpillars a bitter flavor which is not tasty to birds.  Very handy.

I had to search for healthy milkweed leaves to feed the little guy—no sprays or chemicals; no spots, fungus or spores; and no foreign eggs that would hatch a predator.  Leaves can be stored refrigerated in a plastic bag, then given to the caterpillar one or two at a time with a damp piece of paper towel wrapped around the stem to prevent it from drying out.

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I agreed to this adventure, but really had no idea at how dramatic this experience would be.  This little guy (we did find out later that it was a little guy) ate voraciously, doubled in size around every 24 hours, excreted abundantly (“frass”—the nugget on the left side), and slept for around 12 hours at a time which infected me with that maternal worry he was one of the few that do not ‘make it’.  We were becoming attached to our chubby little friend.

 

Then one morning after he had been sleeping on the top of the container….the “J” happened.  This means the chrysalis will be formed soon.

 

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Here are links to videos of the chrysalis formation—yowza!!  Truly incredible.

 

The chrysalis was a bright green jewel with delicate golden beads around it and hung from the top of the container.  Ten days later it became very transparent and we could see the wings through the sheen.  The very next morning this fabulous creature hung in its place, letting his wings drip dry.

 

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The cáscara of the chrysalis, upside down.

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Another incredible link:

 

Scott let the monarch climb onto his finger and brought him outside to flowers, nectar, food.  He hung for quite a while letting the wings fully dry and unfold.

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If you’re thinking of adopting a little miracle, here are parenting links with more information on Rearing Monarchs and Feeding Just-Hatched Monarchs.

The upcoming fall generation will be the Super Monarchs—the ones that fly to Mexico for the winter, then fly back.  Once again, truth is stranger than fiction.

 

 

 

Favorites August 2014

 

Oh please click on this!

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More food art!

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Hints on drying herbs from Heidi Swanson

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Spreadsheets like you’ve never seen—-the art of Tatsuo Horiuchi

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Audible tree rings

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 Pedal-powered Ice Cream Parlor in LA

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Awesome dust pans…Remodelista once again

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My sister sent me these frozen treat ideas…the possibilities are endless

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Incredible fungus among us

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Flight of the Butterflies—the story of tracking butterflies and discovering their epic annual journey to Mexico, by Fred Urquhart

 

 

The little guy fully unfolded—we know he was a guy from the two dark dots on the lower part of the wings.

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4 Comments

  1. amy wilkinson says:

    that is awesomely beautiful monarch mom!

  2. Daniel says:

    Amazing post about the monarch! Thanks

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