Woke up to a beautiful sunrise. I feel as though my dear friend AJwas greeting me on this- his 1st angelversary. Another friend gone too soon and he is sorely missed. He always told me that I inspire him with my photogtaphy and I know he would have loved following our monarch adventure. AJ had a heart as big as he was and he was truly one of my favorite humans in this world.
Woke up to a beautiful sunrise this morning, waiting for monarch #6 to hatch. I am ecstatic that I got it on video! This video is on the longer side, but I hope you enjoy. It was kinda quiet, not having my sidekick causing shenanigams in the background but I hope you enjoy it nonetheless. Have a great day all!
Our work and dedication to our monarch caterpillars has finally paid off! We woke up to 4 butterflies already hatched, and were blessed to watch some of #5 hatch.
We put the first 2, both males- out on a goldenrod. As I was putting #3 outside, (the one I picked up in the video) also a male, the 1st 2 flew off. Be still my heart as tears of pride and joy sprang to my eyes as I watched them fly away.
Here’s our educational video we took this morning- sprinkled with some nonsense and shenanigans, courtesy of Aurora. Hope you enjoy and have a great day, my dear fellow bloggers!
Top of the morning folks! I have not been very loquacious on my blog lately. I haven’t had much to say, in which case, I’d rather say nothing just spew garbage words just to write.
Aurora and I have been preoccupied with taking care of about 20 monarchs that we have collected in the past 10 days and now have 7 chrysalides, with one forming as I write this! This has been such an exciting experience for Aurora and me to witness and this is something I wish to do every year from here on out! To witness a chrysalis forming, is to witness something magical and bigger than ourselves. Our experience this year will help us better to save monarchs next year!
Yesterday morning, Aurora and I took a walk way up the road to check for monarch caterpillers and found quite a few. We have 18 or 19…I think a couple may have been double counted or hiding but I counted at least 18 just now.
We have already cleaned the caterpillar box twice today. Those little critters poop a LOT!
Here are some of them right after we got home with them yesterday morning. I hadn’t realized that we got so many, and from only a few plants too!
Here’s several of them that climbed up to the cover and stayed over night. I took them off so they could find their food.
Aurora decorated a little yesterday and this monarch baby climbed right over to it and has been there since. This one shall be named Picasso since it is on the artwork. I think Picasso msy be ready to cocoon soon! I tacked sewing pins around for the babies to attach to.
Here are the babies this morning after feeding and cleaning time. Note the various instar stages.
The caterpillar at the top of this pic climbed up there over the night and is still there, and the one on the paper plate below climbed up there this afternoon. I have a feeling these 2 are getting ready to cocoon as well.
We have really enjoyed observing these beautiful creatures. I am thankful for the opportunity to help them and give them shelter from predators so that they may be able to have a decent chance to make it to butterfly. We may not be able to remove their predators, but we can remove them from the danger the best we can. We need to feed them and keep the box clean and they should be ok. We don’t even have a cover over the box so that goes to show they don’t stray far from their food. I have ideas for a monarch motel for next year, when we have more time to prepare. This was kind of impulsive that we rescued these guys but we have food nearby to provide for them daily. Next year I would like to have some potted milkweed that we can bring in to monitor for predators and bring outside when they are ready to fly.
I had a different post in mind to write today, but this morning as I sat down to write, a more pressing matter presented itself. The town went by with their side mower thingy that they trim the sides of the road with. Personally, I don’t see the point of that, being that the greenery on the side of the road does not block the view of the road and it provides plants for wildlife like butterflies, and also, that money could go to fixing the crappy potholes everywhere! While I wouldn’t care about them cutting down the plants on the side of the road, there are milk weeds along some parts that I hate to see cut. Last year, just as Aurora and I found some monarch caterpillars on the side of the road, the town cut them down just a few days later and it really upset me. I vowed that I would help rescue them this year. When Aurora and I saw the mower drive by this morning, we hurried through our breakfast, grabbed our bug container and dashed out the door on a rescue mission.
We braved 80 degree sun and hordes of man-eating bugs (the freakin deer flies were AWFUL) just to find a mere 2 caterpillars, 2 eggs, and a cocoon. At least, I hope it’s a cocoon and not a spider nest!
I feel like our effort was futile, to only find 2 caterpillars, but at least we tried. We are going to go set the caterpillars free in the field that we have been frequenting, and we’re going to mark the plant we put them on so that we may visit for further observation. The cocoon and the eggs will be kept for further observation at home until they hatch and we set them free.
The eggs are so miniscule that I almost missed them! I have never seen a butterfly egg before, so I’m excited to see these two hatch and witness the very first stage of monarch life, the 1st instar of their caterpillar stage.
The two caterpillars seem to be in the 2nd or 3rd instar phase of their growth, and they are tiny, about an 1/8 of an inch. They appear much bigger in my pics. They were both found on very young milkweed that had no blooms yet. As for the cocoon, I doubt it’s a monarch, being that it too was on a young milkweed that we hadn’t found any caterpillars on or any signs of the leaves being eaten like any had been there yet. It will be fun to see what emerges and like I said before, hopefully not spiders! I don’t think spiders would build an egg nest on a milkweed, but I’m not an expert on spiders.
To see Aurora cry this morning with concern made me a proud Mama. She is already on the road to compassion for other living creatures and that makes me happy. On our walk to the milkweed this morning, I suggested to her that she could be a conservationist, being that she loves nature so much. She said an animal doctor and that would be awesome too! With her kind and caring nature for others, I think she will do well to have a career caring for others, be it humans or animals. I hope she keeps that compassion throughout her life, to think of others before her own self.
I can’t wait to write my blog tomorrow that I was going to write today, because it’s something I have been waiting with bated breath for, for about two months now! I bid you all to have a great day, and if you know of milkweed on the side of the road that will be cut down, please follow our example and rescue the monarch caterpillars, because that is the only plant that they can survive on!
Top of the morning to ya! What’s ten minutes of peace, you ask? Watch my video below! It was actually a whole HOUR of peace, sanse bebe because Aurora decided to skip science class yesterday to stay home. I was not going to argue about having some alone time where I didn’t have to be in mom mode, being that I am with Aurora 24/7, 365 days a year! Do I feel guilty? NOPE! I deserve an hour of peace to collect my thoughts and do what I like most-being out in the calm of Nature, chasing butterflies and taking pics.
My main objective over the past week has been to find some monarch caterpillars. They will ONLY be found on milkweed, as that is the only place a monarch will lay her eggs and the only plant that the larvae can eat. The adults, however, will feed on a variety of different flowers. You can read more about the life cycle of the monarch here.
I was ecstatic to have found a caterpillar that appears to me to be in the 2nd or 3rd instar of the larva stage. Isn’t it a beaute?
While I was a bit disappointed to find only one monarch caterpillar and see maybe four or five adults, (who were clever at not coming anywhere near me so I couldn’t shoot them) I was delighted to document several hummingbird hawk moths who were not bothered by my presence one bit. In fact, they flew right in front of my phone like they were checking it out.
I was able to get a few still shots of these marvelous creatures feeding away. Once upon a time I only seen them a couple of times over several years, and now I have seen several at once.
In the midst of chasing butterflies, I was surrounded by a conundrum of other insects: house flies, horse flies, deer flies, (surprisingly they were leaving me alone, some appeared to be sleeping) bees and what I think might have been wasps of some sort. I’m not a bee expert but I do know that for the most part, if you leave them alone, they leave you alone. I had a close encounter with a yellow jacket in the video which you can’t see, but that was the only time I got worried.
I never thought I would say that I was thankful for any of my kids skipping class (they better not!) but being that Aurora and I home school , she has that freedom to skip if she wants. I appreciate the hour that I got to spend among the field of milkweed (which was a field of Lupine Love not too long ago) chasing butterflies and smelling the sweet aroma of the blooming flowers. I felt refreshed after that hour, to be able to have been free to chase the wildlife for some pictures and videos with my undivided attention.
I hope you enjoyed reading this post as much as I enjoyed making it. Nature is my therapy, and it can be yours too, if you only open your eyes to see it. Do you like to be out in nature? What is your favorite thing to do while being outdoors?
Top of the Saturday morning to you all! I hope that today finds you alive and well and if you are not well, I wish you to get better. We woke up to a mild 35 degrees this morning and at the moment, it’s 43 with 100% humidity and a real feel of 52. I’ll take it, at least it’s not 90 like the beginning of the week. My heart skipped a beat though when I woke up and saw how dangerously low to freezing that it was. I wouldn’t want my jungle to freeze before it had its chance to shine!
After I write this post, Aurora and I are going to go do some “sciencing”, a word I made up a while back. I home school her, at least for now, and we do our science stuff out in the field to learn about the world around us. At breakfast this morning, I mentioned to her that we should get a couple of field notebooks, as scientists take notes on what they observe. When I told her that the notebook would be to write notes in, she lamented that she doesn’t write (yet! that’s for us to start in a couple of months) but then she perked right up and said she can draw. That is certainly true that she can draw her observations, for that is part of a field notebook. I can’t draw worth a crap but I can illustrate with words, so we will make a good science team in the future.
Our first year of homeschooling has been lax since September, and by lax, I mean that I have no clue what I am doing and we are winging it! I must be doing something ok because she knows her alphabet by sight, sound and sign (she learned to spell and sign her name the very 1st day!) and I was told by my eldest daughter’s old Head Start teacher that I am doing excellent and that she was impressed that Aurora could spell and sign her name so quickly. We are homeschooling year round, which leaves us the freedom to do what we want, when we want to learn, without any pressure. I feel that children can learn better in a freer environment, to learn at their own pace. For example, I had tried back in September to teach Aurora to start writing her letters, but she was not very interested in it. I put it on the back burner to start for this September. I am finding that she is more of a visual learner, so we’re going to go with that. Part of the reason why I chose to teach her year round is because of the flexibility. During winter, we did more of the general concept learning letters, numbers, etc. and I have been waiting for spring and summer for us to learn some science hands on.
Our main science mission to observe this summer is the life cycle of the monarch butterfly. They are dwindling in numbers and I think it is important to teach Aurora to try to help conserve them. Monarchs only lay their eggs on milkweed and when people cut them down, it hurts their population. We are blessed to have a bunch of milkweed near us to observe monarchs and their life cycle, in a place where they will not be disturbed.
The past couple of days we have seen a few monarchs, but they haven’t sat still long enough for us to observe them. We have, however, been finding hummingbird hawk moths that have been a bit more cooperative with our observations. I saw my first hummingbird hawk moth several years ago, and only a few times since before moving here last year. They may seem elusive but you just need to know where to look. Being that we have all the time on our hands, Aurora and I have learned where and when we can find them, which also helps teach her about life cycles.
Here’s a clip of our adventure yesterday. We did see a couple of monarchs for a few fleeting moments, but we got good footage of a hummingbird hawk moth. We embrace any learning opportunity we get! I am a firm believer in being self-taught, but that is a post to be written for another day. Right now, we have some sciencing to go do! I bid you all to have a wonderful day, and to go out and observe something!