Saturday, August 16, 2008

A Miracle in My Kitchen

When we got home from work Friday afternoon, I found the miracle of a newly-hatched monarch butterfly in my monarch ranch.
After locating my tags and tracking worksheet, I stuck a tag on this male's left hindwing and placed him outside on some brown-eyed Susans. He spent some time there getting used to the "real world" and when I checked back in about 10 minutes, he was gone.
There are still 8 more monarchs in the ranch to hatch. All of these were raised from eggs except #1 which was a full grown caterpillar I found out in the wildflower garden.

I'm always hesitant about choosing full-grown caterpillars from outside because of the possibility of parasitic flies or wasps that may have laid an egg in the caterpillar (remember that previous disappointment I posted on the swallowtail cocoon?) But this time, I think all is well with this monarch cocoon.

Here's a close-up of cocoon #1: Isn't it cool how you can see the veins of the butterfly's wings?
The empty cocoon to the right of this one is from the butterfly that just hatched.

I think it's just so miraculous that a caterpillar can change into a butterfly in only 2 weeks and that it all happens inside this tiny cocoon.

I love this time of year--there are butterflies everywhere right now! While I was mowing lawn this afternoon, I saw quite a few monarchs, cabbage whites, tiger swallowtails and even a few giant swallowtails. That was pretty cool!


Jayne said...

I love seeing your ranch Ruthie, and am tickled to see your first tagged Monarch of the season. Yay! Keep us posted. :c)

KGMom said...

Yee-haw. That's for Ruthie the monarch rancher!
This is a cool post. Thanks for sharing.

Larry said...

That's a great project you have going with nice photos to go along with it.-I like your animated knitting ruthie.-I'm sure you probably put it there ages ago but this is the first time I tuned into it.

Trixie said...

Fantastic! What a great way to spend August. You are so smart and intrepid. Thanks for the tour of your ranch.

RuthieJ said...

Hi Jayne,
Once they turn into cocoons, I kind of forget about them since I don't have to open the ranch to feed them every day, then I'm always surprised when a butterfly arrives.

Thanks Donna, I'm glad you enjoyed it. I need to take some time to check the remaining milkweed in my yard and try to round up some new caterpillars and/or eggs to add to my "herd."

Hi Larry,
It's a fun project and doesn't cost anything (except for the tags). I like to think I'm doing a little bit to help the monarch population.

Thanks Trixie. I hope someday one of my tagged monarchs is found. Wouldn't that be cool?

Mary said...

I'm so impressed. Ruthie, you are one incredible lady. You do so much and to raise Monarch butterflies is beyond my dreams.

You go!

Meggie said...

While I'm not hatching my own crop of butterflies, I am quite intriqued with them...quite plentiful as you said, Ruthie. They cooperated quite well for some photos this afternoon.

Maud said...

I love to follow through your postings the lives of the monarchs! Thank you for doing it again! (And Ps look, I'm posting a comment! I finally figured out the problem with commenting on blogger, and even managed to fix it! Yahoo!)

Susan Gets Native said...

Bravo on your monarch raising skillz! We had a big disappointment last year when we tried. I read up on it and there is a bacteria that can live in butterfly habitats and it kills all of the cats and even the soon-to-be butterfly in the chrysalis.
We lost 12.

Julie said...

Hi Ruthie! Do monarch's range in size? I know there is a butterfly that looks very similar but has an extra stripe. I took some pictures of what I thought might be monarch's over the weekend, but they're smaller than others I've seen. I need to get them uploaded to the computer so I can get a better look and identify them.
Sorry, rambling on... Great pictures - as always!

RuthieJ said...

Thanks Mary. Raising monarchs is just one more excuse I have for not doing housework! That monarch ranch clutters up my kitchen counter all summer it seems, but it looks like they will be all hatched in another couple weeks and then I'll have to clean up. :-(

Hi Meggie,
The newly tagged monarchs are still learning to use their wings, so pretty easy to photograph (for a few minutes anyway)

Hi Maud,
It's so good to hear from you again. I'm glad you were able to take a few minutes from your own busy life and stop by for a comment!

Oh Susan, that's so sad....I bet your girls were devastated!

Hi Julie,
Wonder if your monarch look-alike is a Viceroy? It has an extra black line across the hind wings and you do have them in Kansas. My field guide also says they're smaller than a Monarch.