Sunday, February 22, 2015

The Latest Batch Begins To Emerge

Last Thursday, February 19th, we took the first 5 Monarchs from this latest batch up to my daughter's 1st grade elementary school class.  They were thrilled to see the butterflies.  Later that day, after lunch, they released them.  There were 3 females and 2 males.  Due to the cold temperatures and smaller supplies of milkweed, they were slightly smaller than average.

Additionally, one female Monarch emerged this morning in our mudroom.  She had fallen from her silk pad, so we tied some thread to her stem and hung her in the mudroom.  She emerged just fine this morning.  So, as of today, we have raised a grand total of 2,077 Monarchs!

There are 6 more chrysali' in the pavilion at school.  One or two of them are Queen butterflies.  We help them out too when we can.  We will give you an update after they emerge.  This year's 2014-2015 winter season has been unique in that we have not hit 32 degrees the whole winter.  The lowest we have gotten to is around 37.  So, we have had Monarchs hang around for the whole winter for the first time.  As the climate changes and warms, so do does their migratory behavior.  Hopefully the migration will not fall apart. 

I am hoping that these new butterflies will be able to head north with their fellow monarchs when they pass through this area between March 1st - 15th.  We will keep you posted.

In my next post, I will review a couple of different ways to propagate milkweed. 

Happy Monarching!

Caleb & Janae Warren

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Monarchs On The Gulf Coast Year Round

This winter, I have observed something new here on the Texas Gulf Coast.  Monarchs have stayed here through the winter.  For the first time since I moved here in the fall of 2008, we have not had a winter freeze of any sort.  The lowest temperatures thus far for this winter have been in the upper 30's.  Today, we are having a cold snap.  Last night's low was 40.  As the climate continues to warm, this is affecting the migration of the Monarchs.  The warmer it gets, the less numbers will migrate south for the winter.  Previously, we have always had a true freeze 1-3 times during each winter.  Without any true freezes, any Monarchs born after the migration period tend to stay in the area.  Two times this winter, we have raised 2 batches of 12+ Monarchs and released them.  

Currently, we have 12 chrysali'.  The first Monarch emerged from its chrysalis last night.  The 2nd one is turning dark today.  As soon as the temperature warms up, we will release them.  It might work out that some of these guys will join the northern migration as they fly through the area next month.  Normally, the Monarchs migrate through here between March 1st through the 15th.  We look forward to seeing them.  

Again, I want to take this opportunity to encourage all my readers to plant as much milkweed as you can.  Since one caterpillar can consume 20 full sized milkweed leaves, and since 1 female Monarch can lay 600+ eggs during her lifetime, you can see how strong the need for milkweed is.  That is the #1 thing we can do to help the Monarchs.  Also, do not put pesticides on your milkweed plants as this will kill the butterfly caterpillars.  Removal of other insects by hand or by spraying them off with water is the best way to take care of unwanted pests on your milkweed.

One last note:  On February 7th, my family was invited to do a presentation on the Monarch butterfly at a nearby Chamber of Commerce meeting.  All went well, and many were educated about the plight of the Monarch.  We mentioned that the area of Texas that we live in is called "Butterfly Alley".  One landscpaper was there from the community.  He said he will plant more milkweeed as he landscapes yards in his area.  We felt really good about that.  So, if you are hiring a landscaper to beautify your yard, please ask him to plant milkweed and not to use poison on it.

Happy Monarching!

Caleb & Janae Warren          

P.S.  The first Monarch from this batch is a female.                    :-)