Sunday, 19 July 2015

Finally! Some Eggs!

For the past 8 summers I have been raising monarch butterflies from the eggs I find on the milkweed plants we have propagated in our garden.

I start looking for the eggs on the undersides of the leaves at the beginning of July and have found them up to the middle of August.

Last year, I noted that the numbers were WAY down. I also had some problems with larva cannibalism and vowed to nurture each larva in its own container until it was big enough to join others.

So far this year I hadn't found a single egg and was starting to get very worried that I may not get to rear any monarchs at all this year. The milkweed flowers have bloomed and their fragrance has been intoxicating. But with the heat wave we're currently experiencing, the monarchs finally seem to be arriving.

I found the first egg this morning. Hurray!
Then found seven more on various milkweed plants around the garden, including this one laid on top of a leaf. In my experience, that is rare. Maybe Mrs. Monarch was in a hurry or the leaf was turned over and she thought it was the back of the leaf.
Although very small, the eggs are quite easy to detect. They are white, and look like little footballs standing on end.
My goal is to get at least a dozen monarchs to the butterfly stage.
Assuming the eggs were laid recently, they will hatch within 3 - 5 days. As I will be bringing them into the house where it will be cooler, I'm hoping they'll hatch later than sooner. I bring them in to protect them from birds and insects that love to eat them and so they'll have the best chance to complete the metamorphosis to adulthood.

Skip and I are going to be taking off on another adventure tomorrow so I'm hoping to leave the stems of the leaves in water so they'll stay fresh. 

The larvae emerge by chewing their way through the egg casing. Once out, they turn around and eat the rest of the egg casing then begin dining on the leaf they're on. They'll still be very small so won't be eating vast quantities for a week or so. I think they'll be fine until we get back on Friday.

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