Wednesday, August 30, 2017

The Butterflies of 2017 Are Hatching!

This afternoon the first two butterflies hatched from their chrysalises! One black swallowtail and one monarch were flitting around in the caterpillar cube when I went out to check on the milkweed supply. 

The monarch - a male - was still drying its wings. It must have hatched just minutes before.
Black swallowtail with empty chrysalis.
The monarch dries its wings before it can take off for Mexico.

 I was so happy to see the swallowtail since I've never raised them before. I decided to try after finding the caterpillars on the one small parsley plant and one brown dill plant in the garden. Our son Kevin graciously fed the caterpillars their fennel&parsley or milkweed diets while we were in Roatan last week.




I purchased a new caterpillar cube this year instead of using the cumbersome 29-gallon aquarium again. It's worked out really well. I cut a piece of plexiglass to form a partition to separate the two kinds of caterpillar, since they eat different plants. But I quickly discovered that the caterpillars easily get around the partition. 


Caterpillar cube with chrysalises hanging from top (monarchs) and the plexiglass partition and sides (swallowtails).
Raising the caterpillars inside protects them from birds, wasps, and spiders. Only about 1-2% of butterfly eggs survive to become adults. The butterflies compensate by laying hundreds of eggs. However, with butterflies at all life stages being killed by pesticides, vehicles, and habitat loss, their populations are suffering right along with the other pollinators. Many people are helping them survive by boosting the survival rate as much as they can.



While monarchs make a single silk peduncle from which to hang while they pupate, swallowtails use silk at front and back to form a "saddle" to attach securely to just about anything. I'm hoping all of them hatch. Swallowtails can overwinter in the chrysalis, but I hope they don't.


Sometime this evening the black monarch chrysalis in the foreground will hatch. I can tell by the filmy white coating that appears to cover it. Here you can see the different chrysalis shape and color of swallowtails vs. monarchs.

If all goes well we should be releasing lots of butterflies this year. These two flew away less than an hour after being taken from the cube.

11 comments:

  1. oh my they are GORGEOUS!!!! So, now when I see butterflies, I can wonder if they are yours???? I think it is beyond cool that you are doing this! Your photos are incredible! DakotasDen

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Caren, it is easy once you grow the milkweed plants. As long as they have food and shelter they do the rest all by themselves. I started with just one caterpillar in a jar on my kitchen island :)

      Delete
  2. That protective net is a great idea. Right now we have 2 monarch chrysalises, one on a fence and one on our siding. It is so nice to see so many in one area like you have.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The net is available on Amazon or you can get one at the Monarch Butterfly Shop :
      https://monarchbutterflyshop.net/collections/monarch-butterfly-kits-for-raising-monarch-butterflies
      The first year we had milkweed I left all but one chrysalis outside and the birds ate them.

      Delete
  3. What a wonderful and beneficial hobby...and WOW, they are beautiful!!
    xoxo
    Jakey and Arty

    ReplyDelete
  4. oh how beautiful!!! it's amazing that such magic animals like butterflies really exist :O)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I completely agree! "Endless forms most beautiful…"

      Delete
  5. You've had much better luck with your hatchlings that we have this year, no idea what we're doing wrong. I luffs the Monarchs and the colours on those swallowtails are jewel like aren't they.
    Loves and licky kisses
    Princess Leah xxx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm sorry you're having troubles this year :( It's interesting to me how dull the swallowtail chrysalis is and how bright the monarchs are. Maybe the green monarch chrysalis is camouflaged in bushes but they seem to prefer buildings and sticks so it's a mystery.

      Delete
  6. How beautiful! Hard to believe the trees are starting to turn color here already.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Summer ends too soon but the fall leaves are so pretty!

      Delete

We love to know what you have to meow, bow-wow, growl, or just plain howl. Leave a comment for us!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...