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Posts Tagged ‘butterfly’

When the freeze warnings hit Florida I knew the location of two Monarch chrysalises, which created a dilemma. The last time this situation came up the freeze was shortlived, and most important, I had my husband and granddaughters in the house that night. That was important because, as some of you know, I would be scared silly (yes, silly) with butterflies flitting around in my house. No worry as long as I had someone to take the Monarch out if it hatched overnight. It did. The broken branch was in a vase in my closed office so the cats would not harm it. That morning I opened to door to find him hanging onto the opened chrysalis. I quickly woke H-1 and she grabbed the branch and ran it outside to finish drying and fly away. We did not know where it was in this process. It was not far from flight as it turned out.

So back to the present. Not only did I not have aid, the freeze was to last almost two weeks. Releasing a fresh hatchling into that kind of temperature would probably have been sure death anyway. That fact salved my conscience as I covered the plants and reconciled the butterflies’ plight with nature.

Over the course of a week, I peeked at the one bright green womb with the brilliant gold crown. It had darkened and continued to darken long past it’s due date. Nature had taken care of the situation. Or so I thought. . .

This morning I spot a bright flutter in the driveway. It couldn’t be. It was. The Monarch was still wet from birth and the rain that had just stopped, but was trying to dry out. He looked fully formed and perfect. I was shocked. The sun was shining and wind blowing strong, so he would do just fine.

And now to check the freeze browned plant for signs of life in the leaves. There were a few green ones left at the bottom, but the real sign of life was another chrysalis, darkened and ready to soon release another butterfly. This is long past their normal gestation. I can only surmise that nature held onto the little creatures until the weather was hospitable. Now the challenge is for them to find a proper plant to live on. That is going to be a challenge for sure, but they have gotten this far so I have to think they’ll make it.

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Tis the season I don’t have time for 2,000 words, so their equivalent will help me touch base. This is what is  going on in my wildlife garden right now. At least six Monarch caterpillars have hatched on the broad leaf Monarch plant that grows as high as the eves out front. It’s a caterpillar condo with the finest acomodations. These guys hatch on the leaves, then start munching them for sustenance. The ones with finer tastes take a table by the beautiful blooms and have a regular luau.

One has already begun his new cycle. He’s formed a “J” and will soon create a beautiful, gold crowned crysalis, after which he’ll emerge in a week or ten days as a Monarch butterfly to start the cycle over again. I could not resist taking the Jesus candy cane off my lapel to hang beside him. The similarity smacked me in the face.

A glance up the well lit street and my house looks pretty bare of decorations, but then on closer look, nature has added trim no store could match.

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This is a preview of new beginnings in one of many wildlife gardens and yards. Stay tuned for coming out parties and first flights (hopefully).

Beginning transformation on wall

Beginning transformation on wall

 

Short time later....

Short time later....

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Chrysalis with Monarch wings showing through

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Titmouse nest with newly hatched chicks

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A Monarch butterfly visited two days last week. You see the result here. Last count, there were nine, very tiny caterpillars. The cycle begins again.

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Zebra on Fire Bush

Zebra on Fire Bush

Just something to give you a respite from the news of the day. Enjoy.

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This morning before coffee even, I had to check on our chrysalis. Last night it had just begun to turn transparent, so I was not expecting to see this colorful guy handing there drying his wings, evacuating fluid, but there he was. We do think he is larger than others. After all he was a fat fellow after feeding on the broad leaf milkweed. He also attached himself to the leaf. That did not work out so well, as it turned yellow, then dropped to the ground. This is where friends come in. We wedged him in another bush. The leaf shriveled more. We wedged it again. It shrank and fell again. Clothespin to the rescue. It all worked out in the end, but we are sure he emerged, looked around and said, “How the heck did I get over here?”

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”Chrysalis

 

Note: Click pictures to enlarge.

A short walk outside my front door caught these wonders. The Monarch caterpillars are larger than ever since we got a broad leaf milkweed. They obviously still love the old kind because they stripped it first, but seem to get fatter than usual before finally tucking their necks (do they have necks?) and forming a chubby “J” right beneath the leaf they have been eating on. Seems that was as far as they could waddle. The next morning we have a bright green crysalis, and in another day the gold crown and buttons at the bottom begin to shine in the sun. I’ll try to catch the coming out party in about seven to ten days. If Hurricane Hanna comes this way, we’ll snap that leaf off and bring it inside. We did that once before and woke to a butterfly in the office.

The other shots are just flowers still decorating the yard and the surface of our glassy pond, teeming with life. Though it goes dry at times, rain brings fish and other aquatic life back into this area and restocks the pond for us over and over.

Before our house was built, the  neighborhood kids called the property Frog Bog. We’ve tried to keep it friendly to the frogs and any critters who like to take up residence. It’s easy to make your property welcoming for them. Check out my link to Backyard Wildlife Habitat and get started.

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