Today, I provide another monarch update for you.
My current counts are as follows:
Releases: 5 – 3 female, 1 male, 1 unknown sex
Larva – 5th instar -1, 4th instar – 1, 2nd-3rd instar – 6
Eggs – 3
Deaths: 4 (all failed to pupate). This year I have decided to share my failures at raising monarchs as well as my success stories. I feel that it is important that people understand that nature will take its course and death is part of life. All four of these larva were collected from my side garden when they were in the forth instar or larger. My experience has been that these are more likely to be already infected with a parasite that interferes with pupation.
What to do?
- Keep a clean cage/container.
- Feed fresh milkweed daily.
- Avoid collecting larger caterpillars.
- Dispose of the larva that fail to pupate immediately.
- Disinfect containers.
- Separate larva according to size/instar.
Today, July 27th, started the Monarch Monitoring Blitz. It runs through August 4th. For the first time, I am participating in this effort. However, it is not my first contribution to the study of Monarchs and their conservation. Since 2006, I have submitted data to Journey North on Monarch sightings. And, soon I will order tags from Monarch Watch to tag late season monarchs – those that are part of the Super Generation that migrate to Central Mexico to overwinter. This year I plan to tag less than last year. I think I tagged 46 last year. The year before 25, and the year before that only about 13. My numbers are approximations. I could look up the actual amounts because I’ve kept records of the records I’ve sent to scientists. The year before last I had two tagged monarchs recovered in Mexico. Last year, even though I tagged more, I have not yet determined I had any recovered. At least, none of the tag numbers have been listed with the recoveries yet.
The other thing I am doing differently this year is to leave some eggs and caterpillars outside on the milkweed in my yard. I am not taking in everything I see, as I am watching carefully the density of the larva I have in my containers. Overcrowding leads to disease. Tonight, for example, I saw a large caterpillar stretched the back of a milkweed leaf. I said hello and left him to decide where he would pupate – right there in the garden.
Currently, I am working on a citizen science lesson to share with community members in August and again in November. What types of citizen science projects have you been involved in? There are many available ranging from observations of phenology (signs of the season) to when birds return to our yards in the spring to monitoring the roosts of bats and more. Some require the use of equipment and some just the use of your eyes and noting a date on the calendar. Those are the type I like best!