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A New Monarch - Butterfly That Is

hatch gardechrysalis milkweed

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#1 Carol Christensen

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Posted 25 October 2017 - 02:12 PM

I've had a Monarch butterfly garden for a few years and some years there is an early hard frost.  In early October the temps dropped to the low 20's and I found a monarch caterpillar on the ground under a milkweed plant.  They only eat milkweed at that stage of their development.   I brought it inside, fed it milkweed leaves and soon there was a lovely chrysalis, green w/metallic gold spots, in the cage.  Well, two days ago a beautiful monarch butterfly emerged from it's chrysalis and I just had to share.

 

Attached File  Monarch #2 male 23Oct2017.jpg   157.67KB   4 downloads

 

It's a perfect little boy!  Photo taken the day he hatched.

 

Now that he's a butterfly he needs to eat nectar and would normally migrate with the others to southern California or maybe Mexico.  But although we are having warm days, the flowers and other Monarchs are gone, and nights can be quite cold.

 

Since I have family in the San Francisco Bay Area and we usually visit in the Fall, guess who will be coming with us on a trip to SF?  We leave tomorrow and are giving him a little migration jump-start.  He will be released at the SF Botanical Gardens where there is food and he can continue his migration.

 

Here is a video of a Monarch hatching - time-lapse photography.


Edited by Carol Christensen, 25 October 2017 - 02:24 PM.

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#2 Dutchman

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Posted 25 October 2017 - 06:02 PM

What a beautiful picture.  Plus the fascinating video.  Thanks for sharing.  At the moment there are quite a few butterflies flitting about a certain plant, here at SKPSaguaro Co-op park in Benson, AZ.  I profess total ignorance of plant and butterfly.  "Vlinder" in Dutch.

 

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#3 Carol Christensen

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Posted 25 October 2017 - 06:47 PM

I'm glad you enjoyed it.  Monarchs are rapidly declining in numbers so there is a big push to have people supply the plants needed for reproduction and migration. 

 

Monarchs are the only "Vinder" that migrate in a generational way.  The 1st generation hatches into a caterpillar, becomes a butterfly, migrates north and east, lays eggs, then dies (it only lives a couple of weeks).  Those eggs hatch forming the 2nd generation, they become butterflies, migrate north and east, lay eggs and die.  This cycle goes on for 4 or 5 generations (I forget which) BUT the final generation behaves differently.  It lives for months, not a couple of weeks.  It hatches into a caterpillar, becomes a butterfly and then migrates all the back to the place the 1st generation came from. It overwinters as a butterfly, and in the Spring the entire cycle begins again.  No one understands how an insect 4 or 5 generations out is able to return to where the 1st generation began.

 

I find it fascinating.

 

PS: the migration path I mentioned is for Monarchs west of the Rockies. 


Edited by Carol Christensen, 05 November 2017 - 08:53 AM.

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#4 Hot Toddy

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Posted 26 October 2017 - 03:06 AM

What a great story Carol! Cheers to you for actually seeing him on the ground before stepping on him. Ha! Best of luck and safe travels this week transporting him to the SF Bay Botanical Gardens. It would be interesting to learn someday if he and his ilk ever made it to Southern California and then on to Mexico, but I guess we can only hope and assume. Makes for a great story though. Thanks for sharing!

 

Toddy


Edited by Hot Toddy, 26 October 2017 - 03:08 AM.

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#5 Jean and Fred Dively

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Posted 26 October 2017 - 05:15 AM

Great picture Carol.  During the 90's we lived on Lake Erie.  Each fall we would sit out on the deck overlooking the beach and watch the monarch's coming across the lake from Canada on their way south.  Several years ago Jean and I were volunteers for a program with our county park district where we caught monarchs, determined their sex, then tagged them with a small numbered adhesive sticker on their wings.  All the info was recorded and then they were released to continue on their way south.  I don't remember the totals but there were quite a few.  The park district got info back on a very few.  One of those had actually made it all the way to Mexico to the winter grounds.  This migration is a great accomplishment for individuals that look so frail.  I feel the same way about the humming bird migration to and from Mexico each year. 

Thanks for sharing your picture.

Fred

 


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#6 clover

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Posted 26 October 2017 - 12:16 PM

Carol 

 

Lovely picture. Thanks for caring about them and sharing with us. 

 

In Texas we are encouraged to let milkweed grow and not cut it down, it's a favorite of the Monarch during their migration. 

 

15+ years ago I read a book by Sue Halpern Four Wings & A Prayer  http://tinyurl.com/4wingsprayeramazonIt tells of the migration and how the Monarch is the only butterfly that migrates like birds. Much of this was discovered through the work of volunteers working with scientists. It is said that in the forest in Mexico where they winter over the trees are covered with Monarchs, so many that the noise from their wings creates an absolutely astounding roar!!!

 


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#7 Meadowlark

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Posted 29 October 2017 - 11:57 AM

I sure hope he makes it home to Mexico. You are right, Monarchs are in trouble. Right now they are confused due to climate change, they aren't migrating south as they should be and inevitably, cold temps will kill them. I know that Minnesota got socked with 10 inches of snow the other day, so winter is coming for them...and it won't be pretty. 

Add to this the loss of milkweed...there isn't much of it around anymore as people spray herbicides indiscriminately, or it's been paved over or developed, etc.

Then you have the illegal lumbering, where folks in Mexico have steadily logged off the trees they estivate on in Mexico. There is only one spot in all of Mexico where they congregate for the winter and that is being steadily destroyed.

 

Yet...there may be some hope. They can possibly evolve to new habitats. Hawaii has monarch butterflies, originally introduced from the mainland. I don't know if they migrate. I'd be surprised if they did, 5000 miles of open ocean is a lot of empty to cross.


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#8 Carol Christensen

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Posted 04 November 2017 - 10:26 PM

We left for San Francisco on Oct 26 with the dogs and young Monarch.  The trip was uneventful, warm and sunny, which energizes butterflies.  He traveled in a small net tube, hung by the front window, with some fruit at the bottom.  I dabbed fruit juice on the side of his cage once in while and he ate/drank some during the trip.  We also have a larger collapsible net clothes hamper that he was in before the trip.  On arrival I transferred him to the large cage (hamper), added a plant plus fruit, and put the cage in a sunny window.  We saw him feeding on the fruit or drinking liquid (fruit juice).  The next morning was sunny, so he stayed where he was while we had breakfast.  Then we transferred him to the small carrier and took him to a section of the Botanical Gardens that had blooms and a couple of butterflies.  When I unzipped the lid at the top of the tube, he flew straight up quite a distance, then circled around a bit before landing on a shrub.  His release was over in a flash; our little Monarch was strong and flying free.  Really quite a special moment.  And it was over too quickly for Jack to get pictures.

 

I don't know if the trip west messed up his instinct to go back to his ancestral home but he can survive the winter anywhere along that part of the coast.

 

Strangely, there were other people around when he was released but nobody seemed to notice.  The older I get, the more invisible I become.


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#9 f_stop

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Posted 05 November 2017 - 02:57 AM

damn!  what a story!  i knew monarchs were special creatures but, we're talking way beyond "special".  thank you!  (do i feel a new hobby creeping into my life?)

 

p@


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#10 Jean and Fred Dively

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Posted 05 November 2017 - 07:05 AM

Carol,  I just saw this in the paper this morning and thought that you might be interested.

 

Bonus Monarchs

Tens of thousands of migrating monarch butterflies are stuck in northern climes this autumn because of unusually warm weather and strong winds that have grounded them.  Biologist Elizabeth Howard, monarch tracking group Journey North, says the colorful insects have been seen from far southern Ontario to near cape May, New Jersey.  Monarchs typically arrive in their central Mexican winter home about Nov. 1.  Howard points out that many of the stragglers are a sort of "bonus generation" that was able to emerge late in the season because of the delayed chill.

 

Here in NE Ohio we usually have a killing frost by the 15th of October.  This year we have had 2 light frosts but no killing frost to date.  The flowers are still blooming and some of the trees are still green.  I guess we all have to do what ever we can to help nature in this crazy weather we are having.

 

Fred


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#11 Carol Christensen

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Posted 05 November 2017 - 08:41 AM

Thanks, that's interesting.  I guess my little Monarch would be part of a "bonus generation".

 

There are many organizations involved in saving or studying the Monarchs.  I learned about them at a program by the US Fish & Wildlife Service.

This is the plaque for a Monarch Waystation participant.

 

Attached File  Monarch Waystation.jpg   207.63KB   0 downloads


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Carol Christensen
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pre-Nova was Ova-the-Rainbow 1999 17' LD (sold)



Don't believe everything you think.