Saturday, 15 July 2017

Population Explosion

Yesterday I had 5 pupae and 5 larvae in various stages of development. This morning I found 3 eggs and this larva which I'm guessing hatched a couple of days ago.
Then this afternoon I went looking for more eggs and found 9 more (possibly 10 - I'm having trouble keeping track.

I have relocated all the pupae that were in containers to the top of the caterpillar castle. Basically, I peeled their silky attachment off whatever they were attached to

and stuck them on the roof of the caterpillar castle. The masking tape didn't work well so I sewed them on. They'll be fine there and hang there once they're hatched and their wings are strong enough for flight - usually several hours after emerging from the chrysalis.  One larva at the back is going to pupate in a few hours.
It is possible to determine the gender of the chrysalis but I haven't really had a good look.

With all the new eggs I've found, I've had to put them in various containers. All the pupae and big caterpillars are in the castle. Each little larva will be in its own container until it's big enough not to eat other little ones.
The open containers each contain a milkweed leaf with eggs on it. I don't have to worry about them crawling away until a day or two after they've hatched. I'll know when they're about to hatch when I see the black dot at the top of the egg. There are 23 or 24 monarchs altogether as of now.
I still go out several times a day and check for more eggs or larvae. I'm not sure what my maximum capacity could be. Every larva or egg I find could be one more that makes it down to Mexico to begin the 4 generation cycle all over again.

My biggest concern will be finding enough fresh milkweed to feel the larvae after they hatch.

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