Sunday, June 20, 2010

Congratulations Mr. & Mrs. Warren! It's a Girl!

Finally, we have our first emerged butterfly from the second batch, and it's a female Monarch!  So, right off the bat, we've equaled the number of females from the first batch.  Our current number of caterpillars/chrysalises left is 19.  Of those, 1 has emerged, 15 are in chrysalises, 2 are in J Shape, and 1 is still a caterpillar.  We are pleased with the success of this second batch.  However, we started this batch with 50+ caterpillars.  So to lose over half is disheartening.  Still, our average is way over the wild's.  It makes me wonder, with so many predators and dangers out there, how does the wild population produces 100 million butterflies that make it to Mexico each year?  With an average of less than 1 out of every 10 making it to adulthood, the wild must produce literally billions of Monarchs each year to have a successful migration.

(Our first female Monarch from our second batch.)
While inspecting our plants recently, we found three Queen butterflies.  They are from the same family as the Monarchs, and they even feed on Milkweed.  They are slightly smaller than Monarchs, and they don't migrate.  All three are now in J Shapes.  Even though we were running low on Milkweed, we decided to keep them.  We look forward to seeing them emerge.  You can see one of the Queen caterpillars hanging in the J Shape in the picture below.

(Queen caterpillar hanging in the J Shape. Note the extra set of antenae on its back.)
Our mote around the outside pavillion seems to be working well, although we see a fire ant or two every time we inspect it.  Hopefully, it will keep them away until our butterflies can emerge.  We plan to put a capful of bleach in each table leg bowl to further discourage the fire ants and to prevent misquitos from breeding in the water.

Oh, one last note, though it doesn't exactly relate to Monarching.  Yesterday, while at the health food store, I saw some Purple Ribbon Spanish Lavender plants for sale.  Well, I'm a huge fan of lavender, so I couldn't resist, even though Lavender doesn't tend to grow well here in South Texas.  However, I'll give it a try.  I'm not sure if the Monarchs will like the lavender blooms or not.  We will see.  Either way, I'll have a beautiful plant that smells good too for a while.

(My new Purple Ribbon Spanish Lavender Plant. Isn't it beautiful?

Happy Monarching!

Caleb & Janae Warren

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