Monarchs and Other Butterflies

by Catherine Johnson

Next year we will continue our Milkweed/Monarch project and create a network for sharing milkweed, info and habitats. A recent Monarch seminar taught us how to raise milkweed from seed. We’ll create here a walk-in enclosure in the Milam Wildscape for the project.

To follow up on Lisa’s post yesterday, it turns out that 10% of caterpillars make it to butterflies and 10% of those survive full adulthood.  Two of my butterflies were born with wrinkled wings, so I fed them sugar water, took them for outside trips, and after a couple of weeks they passed peacefully. Other
options were to euthanize or leave outside. This way they had a good life.

Gulf fritilary chrysalis

We are watching Gulf Fritillary chrysalises  now.  They look like leaves to fool predators.

Monarch Update

by Catherine Johnson

The baby monarch caterpillar I found is now a chrysalis, along with the Wildscape guys.

Here’s Baby preparing to attach.

When they emerge, they may be the last monarchs to migrate.

Making the J shape.

They are hanging on to a silk web by a Cremaster-hook.

Chrysalis complete

I gently moved the first chrysalises and repositioned them. They must be hanging upside down and with enough space to fully open their wings. If they dry with wrinkled wings, they do not survive. 

The whole group.

Surprise at the Wildscape

by Catherine Johnson

While I was watering and checking milkweed at the Wildscape, I discovered for the first time, Monarch caterpillars. 

Wildscape caterpillar

So many creatures can kill them, and the fowl were roving (it is, after all, a chicken farm). I decided to take them home and raise them in my house. I have done much research on this topic and also took home milkweed stems.

They stayed in a covered container with damp paper towels in a warm bedroom.  I have since received an enclosure and vials.

The enclosure

One baby from my house was added to three from the Wildscape.

Three from the wildscape and the “baby.”

One night the Wildscape Caterpillars formed J’s . Next morning, only one was alive and shaking. My baby was ok. I saw head parts in the paper towels and was relieved to see they had shed their skin for the last time and were now a green chrysalis. I left about 20 minutes and missed seeing the last one turn! 

Shed skin and chrysalis
Chrysalises, through their screen

Baby is still going thru instars. Right before they emerge, I will space them out so they can spread their wings, dry and be released back to the Wildscape. We hope to release hundreds in the future.

Vials and chrysalises

Interesting fact: bigger caterpillars will eat babies emerging from eggs.

Milam Wildscape New Acquisitions

by Catherine Johnson

Wholesalers are offering sales now, so new natives have been acquired for the Milam Wildscape. They include Mexican bush sage, Convent sage, Benny’s acanthus, Mexican flame vine, Dwarf Barbados cherry, and Fragrant mist flower.

Humidity is causing fungus on some plants, but most are thriving.  We will have many native plants, seeds and cuttings to give away in the fall.

Please click on any photo to see the entire image.