Posted in Conservation, Creatures, Progress

Cleaning out the monarch keeper

I had started setting up the tank on Sunday, but quickly realized when I found the old crickets inside that it was in fact used as a reptile tank at one point.  That changed my plan of action slightly, as it still had some sand in the base and now the cleaning would need to be more thorough just in case anything lingered from the former residents.  Then my cat got sick, and suffice it to say I forgot about the cleaning though I still kept an eye on the monarchs.

Today, needing the distraction and noticing how big the oldest had gotten, I realized this couldn’t wait.

I took a kitchen window screen that had a big hole in it that I never got around to repairing since we bought the house out of the three track system, and will use part of the bigger portion that isn’t damaged for the keeper by sewing it to the metal meshed top.  Even though the grid for the mesh is fairly small, I don’t want to take any chances the larvae might prefer to take a walk on the wild side.  Later on, I’ll finish the repair to the window screen itself with new screening I bought before.

I tried to be as thorough as I could be with the tank itself.  After removing the top, plastic plants and the overhead lamp (which was also full of sand), I thoroughly brushed it out, then scrubbed the top and tank with hot dishsoapy water, then sprayed all surfaces with a 2 to 1 part water and white vinegar solution just in case anything was lingering from the former residents.  The tank is currently air drying upside down at an angle in our tub.  The top I had to dry right away because it will rust as the metal is uncoated.  I used a really beat up scrub sponge, knowing I’d want to throw it out after just in case.  It was already on its way out, so I don’t feel as wasteful about it.

I’ve already set aside some containers for water for the stalks of milkweed, and plan to use more scrap of the torn screen at the top of the containers to prevent any larvae from falling in and drowning.  I’ll be putting small gravel pebbles inside the water containers to help keep the stalks from shifting around, though that’s probably overkill.

After posting this, I’ll get to cutting up the piece I’ll be sewing on the lid and using for the water containers.  Once everything is dry and I’ve got new milkweed in place in same containers, I will transfer over the four bigger larvae.  The youngest is still pretty tiny, so I’ll keep it in the incubator.

If all goes well, I’ll be done, and they will be moved by tonight, which is good because I found more eggs earlier today.  Then I’ll have more room for the next bunch (clutch? or does that only apply to chickens, I wonder).

(Continue reading Part 2)



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