Tuesday, October 14, 2014

All Hail the Monarchs (Round 3)

Based on what you, the readers, wanted, I have done more monarch posts.

So, when we last left off, I had created the "chrysalis cage."  All those caterpillars started to pupate, but then so did the remaining 'pillars...in their 'definitely not big enough for them to actually get out of their chrysalis' cages. Most of the caterpillars I caught while they were starting to make their little silk mats to hang from, and rather than stress them out by moving them after they had gotten their little minds in the mood by making their mats, I left them to chrysalise (not a real word) on the screen.  I probably could have moved them at the 'just starting to create a silk mat' stage, but you definitely do not move them once they've hit the 'hanging out in J' stage.

Of course, letting them go to chrysalis in their little cages meant was that I would have to transfer the chrysalises to the pupating cage before they actually hatched.  After having 12 caterpillars go into chrysalis without me seeing it, I finally caught the last one in mid-change:

Of course, you can't really see it all that well in a still photo, but it was really weird because it still all pulses and everything until it completely wiggles out of it's old skin.  It will take about another 24 hours for the shell to harden completely before I could move it into the chrysalis cage.  It should also be noted that in order to get this photo, my husband had to hold the screen up while I took a photo with my phone.  We whispered the entire time because that's obviously what one does when watching a caterpillar begin its pupating phase - you whisper.  The best part was while we're taking this photo, Shawn even whispered, "why are we whispering?"

So a few days after the last cat began to pupate, I started Operation: Move Chrysalis.

You can kinda see the extent of the silk mats in the photo above - they go out just a scosh past the width of the chrysalis.  So the trick in moving them is to get the mat detached from the screen without dropping the chrysalises on the table.  Surprisingly a pretty easy task when you have the correct tools (i.e. a straight pin). Of course, since I needed two hands to do the process, I didn't get a photo of it, but I basically just took the pin and pried at the silk which is surprisingly strong, and sticky, so all I had to do was press the silk together around the pin after I got the chrysalis off the screen.  After getting the chrysalis off the screen, I stuck the pin in a branch I put in an old Thundercloud Subs cup with a rock in it for balance.

Pictures don't do the chrysalises justice - the yellow is actually sparkly gold, and the green is a consistent clear green color.

I then moved the cup into the chrysalis cage, so all my pupating butterflies are together.  It's a little tight (especially for 13 chrysalises, and the resultant 13 butterflies); but hopefully not all the chrysalises will hatch at the same time - though I suppose they could since monarchs pupate from between 10 to 14 days.

Stay tuned; next time we talk about monarchs it will be hatching day.


Rebecca Newcomb said...

Wowwy - 13 chrysalises??? That's insane! I'm so jealous. I have three at the moment, which I guess is better than none. I did not attempt the task of moving my chrysalises though. They are staying put until the butterflies hatch. I can't wait to see your kaleidoscope of butterflies!

Roberta said...

You are amazing! The whole thing is amazing! I can't believe you were brave enough to move the chrysalis with a straight pin. It's so exciting :)