Friday, June 25, 2010

One Is Fertile & The Other One Just Thinks She Is

Well, there is lots of news to share today.  First, two more Monarchs emerged today in the outdoor pavillion.  One was successful, but sadly, the other fell from its perch before its wings could fully dry.  I fear he was accidentally knocked off by one of the other adult Monarchs in the pavillion.  That is always a cause for concern when you have a large number of butterflies and chrysalises in the pavillion at the same time.  I plan to purchase two additional small pavillions in the near future so that I'll have room to bring in my adult butterflies if I need to.

Yesterday, I reported that one of our females was mating with a male, but I wasn't sure if he fully fertilized her eggs because they were interrupted before they could fully connect.  Well, interestingly, that female today is busily flying around in the pavillion from Milkweed plant to plant attempting to lay eggs.  However, nothing is deposited.  It seems she thinks she's fertilized, but she's not.  I've never seen this behavior before.  It's very interesting.  However, our other female Monarch has successfully mated and is laying eggs on our Milkweed plants right now! 

It doesn't seem like it will be a problem having enough Milkweed this time, especially since we have found an abundance of it in our yard.  So, for the first time, we are fully ready for this next batch of babies.  Perhaps the 3rd time will be the charm, and we will have a high success rate. 

Finally, while I love birds, I don't try to encourage them to hang out in our yard.  The reason is simple; most birds eat butterflies.  While it is true that most birds avoid eating Monarchs because they are poisonous and will give the bird a horrible stomach ache, the birds are not born with this knowledge.  So, for them to learn this life lesson, they must consume at least one Monarch.  That's a lot of Monarchs lost just so a bird can learn a lesson.  Therefore, I normally don't set my yard up especially for them.  I don't discourage them from visiting, but I don't encourage them either.  However, the Hummingbird is an exception.  It only feeds on nectar, and it doesn't hunt butterflies.  The two coexist very peacefully.  So, I do put out nectar feeders for the hummingbirds.

Today, I had to replenish their supply.  To my surprise, the same ants that had earlier killed so many of my caterpillars were literally covering the hummingbird feeder so it couldn't feed.  We temporarily corrected the problem with a little hot water, but I know they will be back.  Hopefully, I can find their nest and do away with them.  One encouraging note though is that since I have installed my mote around my outdoor pavillion, and put bleach in the mote, I have had no further problems with ants or any other insects getting into the pavillion.

(Hummingbird feeders in my backyard. I like hummingbirds because they don't try to kill my butterflies.)

Happy Monarching!

Caleb & Janae Warren

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