Friday, October 29, 2010

Red Shouldered Hawk

Many people put out fake Owls to keep the birds off their boats….I don’t have to…015cs

It looks like it’s trying to fly off with the boat.


It saw something in the grass …..


Then it looked at the tree….and decided to sit up there awhile….049cs

What a beautiful bird.


It wasn’t afraid of me….but kept an eye on me as I walked around to get better pictures.


It moved onto the feeder hangers and I decided to discourage that for a sitting spot and chased it away. I hated to see it leave…but I had no choice…..


Look at this face….such a handsome bird….and such a sharp beak.


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Nine Monarchs….10.26.10

By 9 am….9 Monarchs had emerged.

We’ve another beautiful day, here in the hammock. All my windows and doors are open to the fresh air….and a good day for releasing butterflies.

3 of the Monarchs made their chrysalis on a leaf 002cs

and the first one emerged today. You can see part of another one in the upper L under the leaf.017cs

  It was before daylight and the artificial light doesn’t work well with the camera and the screen in the background, but I will post the video anyways. I think you will see at least 3 emerge.

If you watch closely….you can see the one on the leaf and the one at the back of the house…rolling and unrolling their proboscis….this is like a straw that they use to sip nectar from the flowers. I hadn’t noticed them do this before.

Then watch the one on the leaf….you can see it’s thorax (belly) flex and unflex as it pumps the fluid into the wings.

The end of the video shows them getting their exercise before I  let  them go.   This will be my biggest release….I’ve only 8 chrysalis left….they will be out before the other 5 caterpillars are ready.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

4 Monarchs & 1 Queen emerge today 10.25.10

I was up at 6:45 and enjoying my coffee in the screen room. The full moon had the landscape lit up …I could see better than with a flashlight. I was waiting for the birds to get up. The half hour before daylight they are the most vocal. I had already tossed corn and a couple of carrots for the bunnies. The squirrels show up long after sun up.

I was expecting 4 Butterflies to emerge today, but not until after 11:00.

At 7:00 I glanced at the Butterfly House and saw 2 butterflies out of the Chrysalis.  By 9:00 there were 5.

I only had one Queen in a Chrysalis019cs

I could see the vivid colors and knew it wouldn’t be long….it wasn’t030cs

The video of it’s emerging was too blurry to post……

You can see the difference in color….the Monarch is actually much brighter…the flash washes out it’s color


Here are the 4 Monarchs..062cs

It was fun watching them exercise….  

This isn’t the last of them…I have 17 more….and another 6 caterpillars. 1 is in the “J” and should pupate tomorrow….

Friday, October 22, 2010

Two Striped Giant Walking Stick

My husband headed to the “Potting Shed” this morning, where he spotted this very large insect. 004cs

I was pretty sure it was a Walking Stick, but it wasn’t the kind I was used to seeing. I grabbed my camera…took a bunch of pictures and a short video…then looked it up on the internet.  is pretty easy to find things on.

After looking at several Walking Stick photos I settled on the Two Striped. 

The male is the smaller, lighter colored one on her back. 035cs

Once it moved into the sunlight…I was surprised to see that it did in deed look like wood…polished wood. It was beautiful. The pictures do not do it justice.


Quick update on the Monarchs…..number 3 emerged and was released today. 10.22.10 Butterfly #3 022cs

Isn’t she beautiful? The colors and polka dots are so vivid.10.22.10 Butterfly #3 031cs

No more expected for a couple of days….but they could surprise me.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

2nd Monarch Emerged today 10.21.10

I noticed last evening the Chrysalis was getting darker and clear. I was surprised this morning when it emerged at almost the same time as the first one.  I missed the initial splitting of the Chrysalis. It was outside and the wings were still folded up. That was at 11:55…

This is one end of the house and you can see 8 more waiting.


I think I will keep her in until morning. I have a potted Plumbago in the house and  I made an arrangement of Jatropha, Pentas and Buddleia. She has a choice of pink, red and blue.   So far she’s shown  no interest in them.  My research said they didn’t need to be fed until the next day…and that is most likely why.011cs

For now she is content to hang on the screen and slowly exercise her wings.


I expect another in 2 days…another 2 days later and 2 days after that there could be 4.   After that I had 8 pupate in one day and 8 more the next day….so those 2 days could be interesting.

You’ve probably seen enough Monarchs and caterpillars for awhile…

Monday, October 18, 2010

Emerging Monarch Butterfly……10.18.10 (my first)

This photo of the Chrysalis was taken at 2 pm  yesterday…you can see the outline of the butterfly and it’s color,  but the Chrysalis is still green.

10.17.10   2pm

This was taken at 0845 this morning….the Chrysalis is clear and the colors are more vivid.

10.18.10    0845 am

This was taken a few hours later…at 11:11.  I started watching very closely at this point.026cs

At 11:42 it started to split the Chrysalis. The body is full of fluid that will be pumped into the wings. Notice how fat it’s thorax is now. These were snapshots taken from the video and are not very clear.

  Butterfly emergingcs

It looks like some kind of weird bug …… It’s hard to imagine it all fit into that little shell.

Butterfly emergingcs3cs

Now that the wings are full of fluid…notice the thorax is about normal size.029cs 

It stayed by the empty Chrysalis for over an hour letting the wings dry…


It then  traveled around the cage for awhile ….finally settling on the flowers.

I don’t see any black dots on the hind wings….and the black webbing is thick. Both are signs it’s a female. Perhaps she’ll be back next year and lay eggs on  my milkweed plants. 

I am planting all the ones used to raise the caterpillars….and starting seeds in pots to add to the area. I also purchased Swamp Milkweed seeds from Karen at         I will be starting them after refrigerating them for a few weeks ( cold stratification). It’s amazing all the new stuff you learn.                                 

Isn’t she beautiful?

067cs I moved her  out of the Butterfly House into the screen room….after a few minutes she started fluttering against the window as though wanting to get out. I placed her back on the bush and moved it outdoors…..a few minutes later she  flew up into a tree. I hope she spends the night there and then makes the rounds of the flowers in the yard in the morning.

Watch the video to see her emerge, pump the fluid from her  body into the wings, get a little exercise….and then her first flight……. to freedom.

What an interesting day!!!

10.17.10 Chrysalis update

Today I have 23 Monarch Chrysalis….1 Queen Chrysalis, 1 caterpillar  in the “J” formation, 1 small Monarch caterpillar (about 1”) on one plant in the “house” and 2 Queen caterpillars (1/4”) on another plant.

Outside I have 3 Queen Caterpillars on a Giant Milkweed. This plant is about 5 1/2  ft tall with very unusual flowers. I thought it was beautiful and never asked  if it was a native milkweed….it’s not.083cs   I had it in the ground but repotted it and will keep it in the screen room over the winter. That is a Queen caterpillar in the photo below near the bottom of the leaf….and a couple of the spots where it has eaten. They are very thick fleshy leaves. I had a Monarch caterpillar on this plant and it grew eating on only 1 leaf…then I put it in the Butterfly House.085cs

2 of the caterpillars made their chrysalis on the underside of leaves in the “house”.041cs

This chrysalis is dated 10.05.10 and is already darkening…look closely…you can see the outline of the wings. This was taken at 1330, 10.17.10078cs

I am expecting it to emerge sometime tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Nature’s Little Pruners

These plants were new yesterday!   And they are already chewing on the stalks. There are 13 in the picture…and one ladybug to control the aphids.001cs

There are 6 Chrysalis in the top and at least 4 in the “J” position and several up there making the web to hold their feet. You can see one that is just starting to pupate.014cs

This is the view at the other end of the house after I added 2 new plants.


Jim took one look at the denuded foliage this morning and said “we need more plants”  so off to the nursery we went.  I picked up 10 small ones and the 2 large ones that I’ve just put in. I’ll keep the 10 little ones to add as needed.

These caterpillars should all be in a Chrysalis in a day or two…by then the 8 eggs I saw on the plants outside will be ready to come in …and we can start all over again.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Monarch caterpillars are growing.

We were gone for the weekend…I had the Butterfly House all set up with 5 potted plants for the little guys…

My first look at them on Sunday afternoon was a bit of a shock…I thought the plants were withering up and dying…008cs

Then I looked closer….almost all of the top leaves have been eaten.  In this photo you can see several large ones. I would expect them to pupate in the next day or two….

I now have 3 chrysalis in the top. One pupated while we were gone and this one early this morning. Here it has just rid itself of it’s skin.


You can see the difference between them. The one on the R is only minutes old…within an hour it looked just like the one on the L. Until that time, I would see movement every few minutes.


Here is a picture with at least 13 of the 27 that I now have.


I removed 2 of the stripped plants( you can see one on the L (above) that is just stalks) and this is 2 others.


I waited until all the caterpillars moved from the plant on the R to the one on the L , (all the big leaves are there) and then replaced it with a new plant. It wasn’t long before several of them had moved to the new plant.


The 2 plants were planted in the backyard where I am trying to establish a big patch of milkweed for the butterflies.

I had another bonus…can you see anything different in the photo below?


Look closely at the one on the R near the top…..That is a Queen Butterfly caterpillar…notice the extra feelers on its back?…and it has yellow dots instead of yellow stripes….it was on one of the plants I bought today…It just keeps getting better and better.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

How did I end up with a Butterfly House?

Chris posted a comment asking if I was raising them……it didn’t start out that way. I had a small container with a couple of leaves with eggs….I wanted to hatch them and photograph the whole process from start to finish.

I needed to do some research on how to keep the eggs etc.  While doing that I found out that ants and other predators will sometimes eat the eggs (big red ants were running up and down my plants)…so I gathered a few more.  Now I had 2 containers..once they started hatching it was a job keeping fresh clean leaves in it so I moved everything to a large container.  Because the leaves were cut when I placed them in it..they wilted before they could be completely eaten and I was afraid I’d run out of leaves…….that’s when I decided to buy a couple of new plants…..(to feed with)….I sat them in my screen room and transferred all the caterpillars to them ….they could consume the whole leaf instead of only part and they seemed so much more active…It was a lot of fun watching them….sure beats TV…

Next thing I knew I had a big caterpillar and it looked like it was ready to find a safe place to pass from the final stage of caterpillar to pupa (chrysalis)……and the 18 or so others would be following along in a week or so……I wouldn’t mind having them running free in the screen room…but there would be no way for me to keep track of when a butterfly needed to be let out….my husband suggested screening in a bird cage and I remembered the big wooden one stored in the shed….and that’s how I ended up with a Butterfly House.

We can leave for a few days, even if there  is a chrysalis and  it’s getting close to the time for it to emerge….We can sit the cage on the back porch and remove the door and they can leave when they are ready to.

The 5 plants in it will be planted in the back yard for the next season.

My milkweed plants in the yard are getting seed pods.006cs

I will collect some of the seeds to start plants with, incase I want to raise a few butterflies,  and let the rest reseed itself. I hope to have a lot of plants for them when they return from their migration. 

This plant still has an egg or two on it.


You can see this plant would not have fed all those caterpillars and the other plant is much smaller……


Milkweed is also the larval plant for the Queen Butterfly.

male Queencs

It’s another beauty I wouldn’t mind having visit the yard on a regular basis.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

My first Chrysalis

Yesterday afternoon my largest caterpillar made it’s way to the top of the cage….spun a web and anchored it’s hind feet to the top.


A few hours later it dropped into the “J” position….and remained that way all night.


By mid day it looked as if it was getting a bit fatter…you can see that even it’s feet look fat……every now and then there would be a little movement.


Around 4 this afternoon it started to get very active….trying to shed it’s skin for the last time.  085cs

The caterpillar had been changing inside it’s skin to a pupa….it started moving around and the skin eventually moved up to the top087cs

Then it started moving a lot more until it had finally shed the skin. At this point it is very soft.090cs

But within an hour it will harden into a protective shell.


In 9-14 days I will have hatched my first Monarch Butterfly.

Watch the gyrations as it shed’s it’s skin and the pupa emerges..