Posted in Conservation, Creatures

Guardianship update: 8th August 2018

Yesterday was busy, so I didn’t get a chance to post news.  When I cleaned out the incubator yesterday, I found a single newly born.  I think one bit I thought was an egg was really just a tiny milkweed sap bubble.  I checked over the seed pods with a magnifying glass several times to be sure there were no remaining eggs before I put them back outside–they take up a lot of room in the incubator, and I wanted to bring in a stem with more leaves as all the larvae were getting bigger.

Current count in the incubator: six.  Junior (see above) is fourth instar and will be moved to the keeper tomorrow before it hits fifth instar (they jump from just under an inch to just shy of 2″ [22 to 55mm] between 4th and 5th instar).  I was hoping the next one down would be big enough, but he’s still a bit too small, though he’s not far off.

It’s tricky telling between 2nd and 3rd instar with a naked eye, but I’m learning.  Fourth (Junior, at the top left below) gets easier because the size change has a larger jump, and the front antennae are more noticeably longer than the rear tentacles at fourth instar, which you can see more clearly in the image above.  As you can see in this image below showing five of the current six in the incubator (the sixth is under the lower leaf, and I didn’t want to disturb it since it’s close in size to others), two of the five showing are a bit harder to tell, though it seems the left of center is near if not at third as well.  The one right of center is still definitely second.   The littlest one, though its not close enough (and my bad camera couldn’t capture it anyhoo) to see, has pretty much no sign of antennae or tentacles yet in its first instar.

Whhheeee! look at them all.
Again, the sixth larvae is under the bottom leaf.  I don’t like disturbing them any more than a leaf move when possible to show more in a photo. Perspective warps the size of the one in the foreground is actually smaller than the upper one on the other side of the leaf Junior is perched on.  The one low left of center is actually closer in size to the right of center one.

There is enough leaf for all of them for the night, so I will do the changeover tomorrow.  Maybe the next down will be big enough then.  I’m still worried about any smaller ones somehow getting through the X flaps in the screen over the water, though it’s less likely at third instar size.

The weather has been wonky, so my free time hasn’t lined up very well with non heavier rainy times.  The last time I looked for eggs or larvae, I didn’t find any.

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