little surprises

As mentioned awhile ago, I didn’t do any tagging of Monarchs this year. However, I did rear a few caterpillars from small larvae found in the gardens surrounding our house. When we made the sudden decision to leave for a week’s vacation in Nova Scotia, I had to decide what to do with the last batch of caterpillars that were being raised indoors. I set the caterpillars out, on leaves of healthy milkweed plants spaced about the gardens. Hopefully, many of them were able to finish growing and form chrysalises without being attacked by stinkbugs or other predators. I also had several chrysalises that had not yet eclosed. These were set out on the front porch in among the pots of flowers.

Upon returning home a week ago, we found most of the chrysalises empty and a few looking ready to eclose within a day – which soon came to pass. It looks like all were successful in eclosing. We also found a couple of surprises in the house after opening the front door. Two butterflies were found perched on the window sill in the living room. They must have eclosed from caterpillars that escaped from their rearing trays at some time before we left on our vacation. I moved the butterflies outdoors, and after a brief few moments on the cedar bushes, they soared off into the garden. Below is an image of one, shortly before it flew away (click on image for larger view).

In the week since arriving home, we’ve had a couple of other little surprises — chrysalises found attached to objects around the house. Yesterday, Don noticed a chrysalis hanging from the bail handle of a gallon can of paint that’s sitting in the living room in preparation for me to begin painting sometime soon. The chrysalis was dark, so we knew the butterfly would eclose before long. By evening, a Monarch was hanging from the bail handle (see above). I moved it outdoors this morning. I suspect it might be the last of the surprise butterflies for this summer. Unlike some other surprises, this is one form that I quite enjoy.

Tags: ,

3 Responses to “little surprises”

  1. robin andrea Says:

    Yes, that is a very pleasant and beautiful surprise. I hope when we move further south we get to see more Monarchs on a regular basis. I had forgotten what beauties they are until we saw that one the other day. There have been no others. To have one eclose in the house would be a complete and utter delight.

  2. Ruth Says:

    Our paper reported today that the Wings of Paradise butterfly conservatory near us in Cambridge ON has tagged only 150 monarchs this year compared to 500 tagged last year. They do not know why there are fewer around here this year. I found a quite a few caterpillars on Manitoulin Island in July, but have seen none in our neighbourhood since then.

  3. bev Says:

    robin – It never fails that, when I see the first Monarch of the year, I’m always a little surprised by how large and colourful they are. The other thing is that there’s some variation in size. We had a very large male eclose here on the weekend. He certainly was spectacular!

    Ruth – That’s interesting about Monarch numbers seeming to be down around Cambridge. I’ve been hearing that others have found that there were less caterpillars around than usual. I’d say that was probably true here at the farm — still quite a few, but not so many as last year. In 2006, I seemed to be able to find a tiny larva on just about every milkweed plant. This year, I had to check a few before I found a larva. We’ve seen plenty of Monarchs flying around in our gardens and in the fields here at the farm, but there don’t seem to be quite the number flying in the general area. Perhaps this wasn’t such a good year for them — especially compared to 2006 which seemed to be a bumper crop year.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.