Sunday, 9 July 2017

Monarch Mania

The larvae are continuing to grow very quickly. Their 'frass' (poop) is also getting bigger and bigger.

Last night this guy crawled to the mesh on the top of its jar and sat there. I thought it might be getting ready to pupate although it's not quite big enough. It may have shed another skin in the night. This morning, it was back down, eating voraciously. I have to give it a fresh milkweed leaf twice a day. Its not stretched out here but definitely chubbier and the longest of all the larvae.
These two have shared a container and seem to be about the same size. They're a little smaller than the chubby one above.
One of the 5 in the Caterpillar Castle seems to have disappeared a few days ago so we're down to 4. They're doing well. I have kept the stems of milkweed in water and only need to clean out the frass regularly.

I first saw the Caterpillar Castle at the Birding Center on South Padre Island. I copied down the info from this affixed tag and ordered one to bring home.

One side is clear vinyl (facing camera), three sides are solid mesh, one side is mesh with a zipper for access, and the last side has a mesh 'sleeve' which can be used to reach in. I have the sleeve twisted up so the caterpillars don't climb into it.
I keep the stems in water. The jar opening is covered in plastic wrap so the larvae don't accidentally drown. This system has worked well, keeping the clump of milkweed fresh for the hungry larvae.
I'm not sure what is going on with the little guy on the bottom leaf. It sat on the paper towel for a long time last night. I though it was dying and put the leaf down beside it to encourage it to feed. I found it on the leaf this morning but it doesn't appear to be eating. It may just be shedding its skin. Time will tell.
I predict they will all form chrysalises this week. Once that happens, I don't have to do much until they emerge a week or so later.

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