Monday, March 14, 2016

Raising Monarchs and Black Swallowtails

I have been raising Monarch butterflies for a number of years. It use to be under 12 in a summer. But, then last year, I decided to take it to the next level. Last year, I raised and released 95. I have stopped counting eggs, and caterpillars (over 150), and I am just going to focus on successful releases. It's not fun when caterpillars don't make it. There are so many things that can harm them: Febreeze, Windex, flea & tick meds, etc.  
I bring them inside to raise them because the dangers outside are by far greater. They have a much better chance for survival when brought into a controlled environment.
I check my milkweed everyday for eggs, and caterpillars. Tonight, I gave my caterpillars an extra treat. They love the tiny seed pods. I have plenty more large ones for harvesting seeds, and have some to spare.
I also raise Black Swallowtails, though not nearly as many. This one is about to form a chrysalis inside of the rolled piece of bark. You can see a couple of others already in there.

2 eggs, a 1st instar (stage) caterpillar, and a 2nd instar. See how the 2nd is more than twice the size? Every few days they will molt and more than double their size!

They quickly found the milkweed pods.

Nom nom nom

Black Swallowtail caterpillar getting ready to form a chrysalis. There is a very good chance that this one will overwinter like this, and will eclose (emerge as a butterfly) next May/June. Can you see the other chrysalis in there?

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