Posted in Conservation, Creatures

Guardianship update: 29th July 2018

At first, I thought the newest egg dried out or I had squished it in transfer because I couldn’t find the baby larva nearby today when I check on the monarchs and the egg looked deflated.  I felt awful.

Then when I went back a bit later to at least take a picture of the older larvae it was then that I noticed a teeny tiny would be escape artist on the middle of the glass lid of my egg incubator when I lifted it up to take said picture.  (For the record, the incubator is nothing more than an older glass casserole dish with matching lid–the lid fits just loosely enough that it’s not air tight).

I felt so relieved.  I quickly tried to encourage the newborn towards a leaf its elders weren’t on, and then took the picture you see above so you could see the size difference.  That blob on the edge of the leaf to the left in the image is the newly born, and why any pictures I tried to take early on weren’t worth sharing.  The newly hatched are too small for the bad camera to handle.

As I’ve mentioned before, right now I only have my $10 camera to work with.  It can take close ups, but it is limited in how small a thing it can focus on.  This is why I thought today might be a good one to try to get a shot of the larvae again because they had grown enough the bad camera might note choke at their size, and capture them in non blurry detail when the camera doesn’t decide to try to focus on something in front of them.

Here’s what the older instar look like when I’m not trying to focus on something in the foreground:

So happy today that this guardianship is successful so far.
You can tell which was the last to hatch by the size difference between the four.

I will be transferring these four to the larva keeper today. The newborn larva I’ll keep in the incubator a while longer because it’s easier to keep visual track of them at that size in there. The keeper, a 25 gallon former aquarium, is much larger in size. Even with the extra window screening I added to the original metal mesh top of it, it would also be all too easy for the baby to slip through the top if it decided to go exploring again at this time.

I am very, very happy today.  My biggest fear when I decided to try my hand at guardianship was that I would somehow kill off any or all of the larvae even though I had read they’re pretty hardy as long as they have leaf to eat and water to keep the leaves from drying out (the latter is especially important because their eggs draw water from the leaves which keeps them alive inside.)  So five out of five living so far is a great sign, as it is really rare to lose any at this point except in the rare case where an egg might have been infected by a parasite before taking it in.

If you have any questions about my taking caring of the monarch larvae, please feel free to ask in the comments below.

Care to share thoughts on this?