Posted in Conservation, Creatures

Guardianship update: 14th August 2018

We had a fake out.  One of the 5th instar was on the screen lid on the side where all the chrysalises are.  Later, I thought it fell, but it was happily munching on a leaf.  I don’t know how folks keep track of greater numbers.

One of the smaller instar, the one I mentioned kind of not hanging out on leaves on my update on the 12th still wasn’t real active today.  I thought it might just be that it’s in the middle of changing instar, and doesn’t want to move much.  With all the rain we’ve had, I might just be spending more time checking, so such periods with less activity may have gone unnoticed.  I just watched a video of a larvae molting, and it seems similar to what it was doing a few moments ago when I paused to watch as I made some tea.  The other I transferred was a bit slow at first after the move, but has since joined the others off its transfer leaf.

During a break in the rain, I dashed outside to get another stalk.  In my hurry, the first one I clipped I didn’t realize until I had clipped it and was looking to see if it had aphids or the like I’d need to brush off, and there were four eggs!  I can’t recall finding that many on the top of a stalk yet.  So I set that aside and went to the larger patch to grab another.  The smaller patch is where I was cutting, but the newer growth hasn’t really come out yet on most of them, and I didn’t want to cut them down further due to seed pods and such.

I’ve have seen the tell tale flash of orange a few times today, and try to check each time to make sure it’s a monarch and not a painted lady.  So far, all monarchs.  Knowing that, it shouldn’t be as much of a surprise to find the eggs.

The bigger patch is a mess.  So many stalks are dark thanks to the Aphid farmer ants.  I am firmly resolved that next year we will better disperse the milkweed plants and seed (well, seed in the fall so it can set in the colder ground, but you may have known what I meant).   I do plan to cut some of the returning down early in the season after they first flower before they start forming seed pods so have more younger leaves by the time egg season rolls around.

I have been trying to not take the darker stalks because I know they’ve been drained of nutrients by the aphids.  Despite the seeds pods, I’m very tempted to just cut them all down to half and let them regrow after I check them for eggs as some have a bit of newer growth at the top.  The milkweed tussocks have moved on, so I don’t have to worry about them.

I have been eyeballing some self sown young milkweed between a cement poured retaining wall and the sidewalk along one of my usual walking routes.  I’m tempted to grab some, but I never see the property owners and don’t know if they use pesticides.  We still have a lot of plants, I just wish not as many were brown stalked.

In case you’re losing track, currently we have five in chrysalis, five older instars, and now five eggs as of today.  I’m still a bit worried about that one egg because it hasn’t hatched yet, but it really has been so cool here lately, although today we finally hit 78° F.  Tomorrow we may hit a bit higher.

All our near to future butterflies seem to be well.  Their change is starting to become more apparent when we looks at them. I still doubt we’ll have any butterflies on Thursday, but time will tell.

And I just checked on the one I was worried about at just the right time!  I got to watch my first molting as it was happening in the keeper.  Yay!  It’s fine after all.  I’m glad I checked before rereading this post.

Care to share thoughts on this?