What’s going on with monarchs in my yard right now?
Summer is speeding by at its usual quick pace. Far behind my monarch raising efforts of last year, I am truly enjoying this slower place and the special moments to be savored in the care and process this special species. This is still a special time for me, despite the current controversy surrounding the raising of monarchs. There are always firsts, as you will note when you read on further in this post.
Releases of adult raised monarchs –
# 4 was released today. A male. 3 prior releases were female.
# 4 currently – (2) will eclose soon – in the next day or two. (1) will be a week later.
You might have noted that 2+1=3 not 4. I do, in fact, have 4 chrysalises. The last one was found by mistake today. It is what I am calling my rogue chrysalis. I was in our powder room earlier. As I washed my hands, I noted that there was something on top of a magazine in the rack. It suspiciously looked liked 2 pieces of frass and the dead skin of a caterpillar that shed (like a fly that wasn’t moving). I know. I’ve been raising monarchs for close to two decades. It looked like there should be a chrysalis nearby, especially with the appearance of the black, shriveled dead skin.
My eyes scanned the room. I covered the ceiling, the corners, the moulding near the countertop. Finally, my gaze rested on a basket that the magazines were resting in. Up from where I had gathered the poop and skin, my eyes travelled to the handle of the basket. There it was! I saw a green-gold chrysalis attached to the basket handle! I had to laugh! I had an escapee! It’s been some time since I moved the container of caterpillars from the laundry room to the kitchen. The next step will be my outside container that my husband will make for me. But, for now, I have a chrysalis – a monarch chrysalis going through metamorphosis – free style – in my laundry room. I’ll have to watch this closely and keep the laundry room door shut. But, it all was kind of funny. I am calling it my rogue chrysalis!
The six eggs I had earlier in the week have all turned to caterpillars. They are tiny! At first I thought I only had four but then, yesterday, 2 more were found while I was doing my daily container inspection, cleaning, and fresh leaf feeding. It is very important to be scrupulously clean while raising monarchs. Cleaning the frass out of the containers, and providing some moisture, as well as fresh milkweed leaves are all essential to the care of monarchs.
While gathering fresh leaves tonight, I believe I found another egg. I put the leaf it was on in the container with the other tiny caterpillars. Time will tell.
My common milkweed patch looks good with many chewed leaves – especially at mid-rib. I found one larger caterpillar, also identified by seeing frass, that I will save in a separate container for the twin of my son’s girlfriend. She expressed interest in what I was doing so after I make sure she has access to milkweed, I will instruct her on the care and feeding of monarch larva, if she so desired.
Soon,©it will be time to order my tags so I can continue to contribute to the citizen science of monarch migration. If you want to learn more about opportunities to participate in monarch life cycle monitoring, you can check the following sites:
Raising Monarchs Responsibly – Monarch Joint Venture
How you can help monarchs? – Journey North
Monarch Larva Monitoring Project – University of Minnesota