Tuesday, July 26, 2011


Ruthie's 2011 Monarch Ranch officially opened this afternoon! After last year's successful monarch ranch, I'm hoping to double my monarchs raised, tagged and released from 50 to 100! To facilitate that, I recently purchased a larger monarch caterpillar enclosure (on the left). So now the smaller one with the pink lid will be my monarch nursery (already containing the 7 leaves with eggs and 2 baby caterpillars that I found earlier this afternoon).
I also purchased a small, collapsible "Port-A-Bug" carrier for collecting the monarch caterpillars and eggs in the backyard, and a large, collapsible mesh butterfly house for when the monarch butterflies hatch and need space to spread their wings before release outdoors. Good thing I have a large kitchen counter!

Here are the 2 little caterpillars I was lucky to find today -- this one is newly hatched! I was lucky to spot this tiny critter. This isn't a very clear picture, but the orange circle shows where the caterpillar is -- the black spot is its head.

Here's a little bit larger (first instar) caterpillar. I think the dark spot on its middle might be part of a shed skin.

I went out to the wildflower garden in the backyard to see if I could get some photos of monarch butterflies -- I'm just starting to see them more frequently in the backyard. There are thousands of beautiful flowers blooming right now in the backyard and the majority of them are purple coneflowers. The fragrance is wonderful and it's a magnet for butterflies and bees.

I stood at the edge of the flowers waiting for some cooperative butterflies to land on the flowers, but was momentarily distracted when this little female hummingbird landed on a branch just above me. Hello lovely hummer!

I was thrilled to see this beautiful Tiger Swallowtail fly into the garden. Wow! This one must have been newly hatched because its wings were in good shape and colors were very brilliant.

Still no monarchs checking out the flowers, but this handsome Red Admiral flew in to sip some nectar.

And there were plenty of honeybees buzzing around too.

There are so many flowers out here that every insect should be able to find its own, but that didn't stop this honeybee from attempting to move in on a Red Admiral. (In case you're wondering, the Red Admiral chased that little bee away!)

Walking around the outside edge of the garden, I also spotted these 2 spiders on a small web woven between 2 Queen Anne's Lace stalks. I could exactly figure out what was going on here (it's either spider sex or one of the spiders is dead and becoming a meal for the other spider)

(you can click on this photo to enlarge it and see what you can figure out!)

That's all for now. I'll be sharing monarch ranch updates as they become available.


Mary C said...

Looks like a full time job, Ruthie! :) Those mesh butterfly houses sure look like you mean business, big business! :)

Gaelyn said...

You have certainly upgraded the Ranch's accommodations.

Lisa said...

I like the way you presented your post. The butterflies look good on the photos.

Lisa from Country Guitar Lessons

Mollie said...

Lucky that you have a large kitchen counter and lucky butterflies, birds, bees and spiders that you have a LARGER heart!!

Ruth said...

A really interesting post! I like you butterfly pictures and look forward to more ranch news.

stephen said...

Good to see that you're well prepared for this year's Monarch Ranch. I'm looking forward to reading of your adventures.
Your wildflower garden is beautiful!