Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Monarch Emerging from Chrysalis - Final Monarch Update for 2016

So much is happening here! It's crazy fall abundance time and we also snuck in a backpacking trip to the North Cascades in Washington. We are sorting photos (and a video!) and hope to post about that trip soon. We are also witnessing some incredible nature sightings we want to share too. 

This is our second to last Monarch to emerge:

We have one more outside this morning on 9/27/16 that emerged amidst yesterday's chill, but it looks great and will surely fly today in this brilliant sunshine. We had 35 healthy adults emerge, 9 chrysalis deaths and 2 caterpillar deaths. Not bad and so much fun!

I made a video of one of our Monarchs emerging from its chrysalis. It's 7 minutes long, but shows the whole process. I learned after making the video that the "pedipalps" I mentioned are specific for Chelicerates (arachnids, horseshoe crabs, etc). These pedipalp-like organs on the Brush-footed Butterflies are actually shortened legs that look like brushes. Monarchs and other brush foots, have four long legs and these two shortened legs that seem to function similarly to pedipalps in some ways. Total coolness!

Monday, September 12, 2016

Monarch Adults!

Well friends, it's happening. Monarch adults are emerging from their chrysalises like mad and it's so cool!

You can see not all the monarchs are making it to adulthood...this one below has some sort of issue with a bacteria, virus or parasite. We are not familiar enough with this stuff yet to make a call. Some of this stuff is super highly contagious so we will see how our others fare.

Here is a healthy chrysalis with wings starting to show through...

So far we've lost 4 chrysalises and had 16 healthy adults emerge with many more on the way. On this particular day, we found one in the tent in the morning hanging from its pot so we brought it to the sunshine to help speed up the drying process.

This male (you can tell by the dots on the hind wing) clung to the side of the pot for about 30-45 minutes in the sunshine while I had my coffee. He expelled lots of fluid and pumped his wings now and again.

A minute after this photo, this Monarch flew off and soon found our perennial goldenrod and annual Mexican sunflower...a major monarch magnet.

Steve made a video for you to see some of this magic. Enjoy!

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Saddleback Caterpillars & Monarch Tent Update

We seem to grow Saddleback caterpillars here like nowhere else. We find them everywhere and we think they are so dang cool. Do you see that cutie in the middle of the photo?

Let's take a closer look....

Those bright colors and defensive spines really make a big statement to predators and seem to work at least some of the time. While I took these photos, a wasp was on the other side of the leaf and detected this cat, but left it alone.

These caterpillars are generalist feeders and eat many types of plants so it makes sense we are always finding them here and there. Thus far this season we've found them eating Prairie Dock, Cup Plant & Aster. This website has oodles of facts on this very cool cat. 

Check out our video to see one moving and you will understand why they are in the Slug Moth group. We never find them moving so were thrilled!

Also, here's an update on our Monarch Rearing in a Backpacking Tent.

This abundance of life in high summer is Magic.