It’s been awhile since I’ve done any of these but here are some things I’ve loved this week!
- Pod Save America’s interview with Hillary Clinton. I’m on the list to borrow her book at the library and I can’t wait to read it but this was a very satisfying show to tide me over. I just wanted to reach through the computer and hug her and it dragged up a lot of feelings I had from the day after the election. She would have been an excellent president.
- The latest two episodes of the With Her podcast. Yep, more interviews with Hillary. So good!
- This adorable, make-you-cry video from Serena Williams on her pregnancy journey. *sniff sniff*
- Very thankful that my friend Chel made it through Irma while riding it out with her family on Marco Island. They didn’t leave the island due to some health issues that prevented long travel and being in a shelter wasn’t going to work for them either. While her parent’s condo had some window damage when they shattered during the eye wall passing over, her house was thankfully spared much damage and the storm surge didn’t affect her house either. Unfortunately it looks like Everglades City and Chokoloskee and the Lower Keys, not so much. My friend Eliana over in Miami had a lot of damage to the yard as well as some issues with water leaking through the walls. From thinking this storm was going to do to Florida what it did to the Caribbean islands, this could have been much worse. Can we have another long period without major storms?
- Fall seed sowing season! I’ve spent the week prepping beds, going through seeds, and getting them sown. Maybe I’ll get around to an update next week. Can’t wait for greens season again!
Have a great weekend!
This isn’t Craig Pittman’s Oh, Florida! This is I have no words for what is likely to happen to my favorite state, our friends, our former coworkers, our favorite places and spaces, and everything we love in Florida. Harvey was literally in my backyard and yet this feels so much more personal. It doesn’t help to see pictures coming out of the BVI of what Irma did there. I went to Tortola and Virgin Gorda with my parents and brother in 1996 for my parent’s 20th anniversary so those places have memories for me as well.
I didn’t—couldn’t—watch the tv coverage from Harvey. I suspect I won’t be able to do anything but watch tv this weekend. And text my friend Eliana who lives in the Kendall area of Miami.
Irma, you are welcome to wipe out as many pythons, Brazilian peppers, melaleuca trees, and giant apple snails as you can. Please spare the Key deer, liguus tree snails, Miami blue butterfly, Cape sable seaside sparrow, and snail kites, though.
I read five books in August! That’s what happens when I have an hour to read each night when I’m getting Forest to bed.
- Deep Summer by Gwen Bristow: I was searching for historical fiction on Hoopla Digital and this sounded great. It wasn’t until I was a few chapters in that I had to stop and look up the book a bit because I was a little confused by the blatant use of the n-word and some other racial issues, as well as some awkward language/wording at the beginning. This book was written in the late 1930s and book covers have been updated which is why I didn’t catch it to begin with. As much as I had trouble with the slurs and racial issues at the beginning, the book got better and I realized it was all there for a reason. However, I still had a lot of uncomfortable feelings towards the main character in regards to how she treated a slave that was the son of her husband and her former personal slave. Yes, there was all sorts of moments in the book that had me upset but I had to step back and realize that #*$# actually happened. Anyway, the premise of the story is a family is coming down the Mississippi River pre-Revolutionary war, just a few years before, and they meet up with a man who is transporting slaves and other items as he’s part pirate, part trying to become a legit businessman. They are all headed for Louisiana territory/West Florida. It took me a few chapters as the author/characters explained where they were going for me to figure out where they were located because as I said, this is 1700s Louisiana and the area is switching between French and Spanish jurisdiction and this is before it becomes part of the US. The girl, Judith, who is all of like 15 or 16 at the time falls for the guy and they end up eloping once they all settle onto their land grants. I thought the most fascinating part of the discussion was the talk about how the forests were turned into plantations (lots of logging using slave labor) and their houses were built with moss—I had to look that last bit up because I was really confused, it is bousillage, a clay and Spanish moss mixture. There were a ton of tidbits like that throughout the novel of some historical and regional references I didn’t know. Anyway, the book takes you through the Judith’s life up until her 50s or so. The next two novels continue dealing with their lineage, one set in the Civil War era and another around WWI. I will probably read them eventually.
- The Humane Gardener by Nancy Lawson: The author also has a blog. I read this one after I spent the summer getting upset about one sided thinking when it comes to pollinators and insects in the garden. This was an easy read and one to check out if you are interested in branching out in creating habitats for a variety of wildlife. The book also made me think a little bit more on garden cleanup in the spring in regards to native ground nesting bees. I really enjoyed this book and I highly recommend it for any gardener on any level.
- Bringing Nature Home by Dr. Doug Tallamy: This has been on my to-read list for years and after reading Humane Gardener I knew I had to read this one. I’ve listened to Tallamy on several podcasts and he’s always great to hear speak. This book is the next level to the The Humane Gardener in that he gets more specific about the insects in the garden and what plants they use. He’s much more about talking about insects in reference to how they utilize plants for reproduction and feeding as well as how they play a role in the food web, particularly as fodder for birds. Tallamy is also a proponent of creating better habitat for wildlife as a gardener in order to create larger scale wildlife areas instead of the checkerboard habitats we have now with parks on varying scales. This is a must read for all gardeners!
- Enchanted Islands by Allison Amend: This was a surprising little book and I’m glad I found it. Another historical fiction, the book begins in the late 1800s and is loosely based on the life of Frances Conway. A good chunk of the book takes place on the Galapagos Islands, which as someone who got to spend a week there in 1998 this really piqued my interest in reading the book. I definitely recommend reading this one! A few uncomfortable parts dealing with the exploitation of a young girl as well as some murder, otherwise an interesting read.
- Unlatched: The Evolution of Breastfeeding and the Making of a Controversy by Jennifer Grayson: I had been reading this one on and off for awhile but finally finished it up last week during our hurricane days at home. My friend Lisa had sent me her Advanced Reader Copy to read late last year and I was glad to wrap up reading the book. Because it was an ARC I was annoyed a bit with the amount of parentheticals. I love a good parenthesis but there were far too many and I hope they got cut or just added as a sentence. Overall this was a great book talking about breastfeeding on a wide range of topics, from how the Industrial Revolution jacked with women being able to appropriately nurse their babies—can’t take a baby to a mill floor!—and how formula and other concoctions came from that, to how the French in the 1700s sent their children to the country to be nursed by families there. It was a great book from my perspective but I can see how it would upset someone who chose to bottle feed. I don’t feel like the author tried to guilt anyone other than perhaps culture itself but I doubt some people would see it that way. Add this book as a to-read if you are having a baby soon.
- Weedless Gardening by Lee Reich: I’ve heard Lee on a few podcasts before but he’s been on a couple of others more recently so I’m finally checking this book out. He also says it is also pronounced more like Weed Less Gardening. I’m not far into it and based on what I’ve heard him say and what I’ve read the big gist is: Stop tilling and turning your soil all the time. Lee’s website
- The Orphan Mother by Robert Hicks: I read Hicks’ The Widow of the South about 8 or 9 years ago and this is a sort of followup novel to it. I had thought I remembered a lot about TWOTS but there are some things that are mentioned that make me realize I need to re-read it sometime.
What are you reading?
Forest and I are making the best out of a weekend that just couldn’t come together like we wanted. First, Harvey wrecked Rockport and then Chris had to go out of town since he didn’t get to leave last weekend, and then plans to go to DFW (and into OK to meet Chris) were messed up with the gas panic throughout the state. We’re eating cake, opening presents (the ones we have—half are at my parents that were sent there thinking I’d be there, the other half are hopefully coming in the mail today but mail isn’t quite back to normal here yet), and trying to make the day the best we can!
He’s the sweetest little boy and I’m grateful to have him!
Let’s pretend this is a pretty fall vignette of Seminole pumpkins that I harvested freshly from the garden. In reality this is still a rather pretty fall vignette but all three of these pumpkins are rotting thanks to the floodwaters from Harvey. Instead of enjoying these fruits later this fall and winter I now have plenty of seeds to grow more vines next summer! The bright side, I guess?? There are still three pumpkins out there that looked like they might make it through but only time will tell. On Tuesday I thought many things might pull through but by Wednesday it was clear that was laughable and I ripped out the squash bed, the green bean vines, and parsley—which had rotted at the crown. I also took down several tomatoes that croaked thanks to the water and am praying maybe one or two plants make it through. I’m really aggravated at that because my fall tomato goals were going to happen and now those goals are gone for the most part. I’m going to let the garden dry out over the next few days and then go through my seeds and check out what I can sow now and later in the month for fall crops. There’s quite a bit, actually, with more to sow in October.
Hope your September starts off more smoothly than how August went out!
— Texas State Parks (@TPWDparks) August 27, 2017
One glimmer of good news in this mess that is Hurricane/Tropical Storm Harvey—the Goose Island Oak survived! I have not been able to find any information on the Zachary Taylor oak but based on the footage I’ve seen around Rockport, I’m betting that tree is on the ground. I know Houston has kind of taken over the news with the flooding but Rockport and the immediate vicnity was hit very hard. It’s rather upsetting for me because, like many other Texans, it has a lot of vacation memories for my family. I had been looking forward to taking some time driving down all of the back roads through the town when we were going to go this upcoming weekend, to enjoy the oak mottes, maybe pop into the Fulton mansion, go to the Rockport beach, do some shopping downtown. Now, it will be a few years before the town is back on its feet.
I’m still wondering how #2 Mazatlan on Key Allegro looks. That’s where we went for vacation for several years when I was a kid and I can even conjure up the smell and feeling of that stilt house. I always wanted to own that house with its view into Aransas Bay. I tried to find a photo of it in my albums but I think the photos of the front of the house are in my parent’s albums; Google Streetview will have to suffice. My brother and I would spend hours down on the canal below it throwing a cast net, and we’d spend time across the street at the very shelly beach, or the many hours we spent at the Key Allegro community pool down the street. My favorite part of the house was the split level living area with a little alcove seating area off to one side. It’s where I would cozy up and read. I also loved staring out onto the bay, watching the shrimp boats when the sun rose over the bay. This was of course before I knew what a disaster shrimping is.
In our part of Houston, while we have had a lot of rain, we did not reach the levels of Late May 2016. It did come up quite high Saturday night/Sunday morning but dropped and never went back up that high, nor did we have three feet+ of water over the garden, maybe a foot instead. Down on the pond, two pine trees fell into the water but they have been progressively leaning more over the last few years and we knew they would fall someday. And just this morning a sweetgum on the corner of the property down by the pond fell. It was not in good shape anyway and isn’t as big of a problem as the two pine trees. I haven’t been out to the garden to survey the damage so far but I am hoping the pumpkin bed is salvageable but the squash bed looks like it will need to be ripped out. I saw some okra flopped over. I’m hoping the fall tomatoes will pull through. It’s still steadily raining so I haven’t had a chance to do a thorough walk through of the yard.
We did get out and go to a gas station yesterday afternoon as the roads were clear a bit in one direction. On our way out of our neighborhood the road is being eaten away at a culvert so it is only passable on one side. A gas station was open so we went and got a soda for Chris since he had a headache and he went back out later to get brown sugar for a pork shoulder he is smoking today. The main road into Tomball over 249 was/is still flooded where Spring Creek intersects but from what we know we can get into Magnolia the other direction and into our office via that direction, too. Most of that is moot anyway because if you drive anywhere you are bound to run into flooding somewhere so no one can really get too far yet. School districts are closed for the week and Forest’s daycare is closed through tomorrow, pending the ability of workers being able to get into the school the rest of the week.
The one wildlife/nature thing we’re concerned about is the Waugh Street Bat Bridge over Buffalo Bayou. Buffalo Bayou was well out of its banks and anticipating more water due to releases from the Addicks and Barker reservoirs near Katy. We had just went to see the bats emerge back in July—I never got around to posting about that here—but it appears the colony might have been affected pretty heavily. Some bats were taking refuge on a nearby building but I have seen videos and photos of people rescuing bats from the water and people saying they heard them chirping under the bridge. I am sure there will be a big loss from the ones who did not make it out. It is definitely upsetting to think of.
While it was bad here it could have been so much worse had we been closer to the coast or if we’d had any recent rain and saturation in the ground. I am so thankful that we’ve had very minimal damage and problems.
I’m ready for some sun.
We’re sitting here wrapping up our second day of storm watch. At least today, overnight and earlier this morning, there was something to talk about regarding the storm. Yesterday was spent in complete wait and see mode. No, the hurricane wasn’t making landfall anywhere near us but the outer bands were sending everyone into a tizzy in regards to flooding. The continued forecasts of the storm meandering around the coast and central Texas for the next week has amplified flooding concerns and so most people are all hibernating in their house.
Last night we got out to run to the grocery store. We didn’t necessarily need anything on our list but we were already getting stir-crazy. There was no bread. And limited toilet paper. The canned goods were picked over as was the lunch meat but overall there was plenty in the store to eat unless you wanted to make a sandwich. And for most of today it has been relatively quiet for our little slice of this storm. We have sat in a lull between bands for much of the day with activity picking up only in the last hour or so. It’s about 4:15pm as I start writing this draft. Maybe I’ll finish it tonight, maybe in the morning. I’ve been slow at writing blog posts these days.
So, let’s go on a random photo trip shall we? Might as well.
Fall is trying to come to the garden. The fig is dropping leaves and I’ve been trying to keep the path cleared by moving the leaves into the garden for mulch.
Good evening light on one of the brugmansias.
Preschooler mood. Moving sand from the sandbox via his cookware from the playhouse.
The daturas we got this year are white and are much more low growing than the purple ones. I’m really digging them!
Having been in bloom since February, the golden lotus banana is showing signs of fading. I bet it still has another month or so to go, though.
Galls on a hickory leaf.
Fall cucumbers! Woot woot!
The only hibiscus-like flowers I’m enjoying—okra!
I have a cowpea!! There look to be more on the horizon so I’m glad I just gave it time over there.
‘Coral nymph’ Salvia coccinea
The Seminole pumpkin bed! Swallowed whole by vines! Six pumpkins are out there, now to survive the rains for the next several days.
And the squash bed that decided to eat the bean trellises.
Summer self-sown bok choi. With having some self sown radishes and now this, I really am tempted to try a limited run of them next summer in a shadier section of the garden. It would be nice to have some salad greens in the summer.
And finally, some mid-day lull puddle splashing!
Hurricane Harvey is poised to slam into Rockport and the surrounding vicinity pretty heavily so I send good thoughts to The Big Tree at Goose Island State Park this weekend. Chris reminded me that the hurricane in its 1000+ years has seen plenty of hurricanes but still, it could use some good thoughts.
Probably more in need of good thoughts is the Zachary Taylor Oak in Rockport. It was looking a bit worse for the wear when we visited in 2015.
Here in NW Houston we’ve prepared for what we can. While we may have some tropical storm winds at first the big problem will of course, be flooding. The good news it that we haven’t had a lot of rain this summer so we aren’t already saturated but the bad news is it doesn’t take long for things to accumulate when you live in a low lying area. *Crossing fingers*. Things will definitely be much worse south of I-10 and along the coast.
We had plans to go back to Rockport and Port Aransas next weekend for Forest’s birthday but that has now changed with a major hurricane heading there. Who knows what the damage will be to the area. I’m also worried about the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge; it will take a big hit, too. The only good thing is that the whooping cranes aren’t there right now.
We’re in a phase where I’m ready for the lull in the garden to end a bit, to have more of a haul every few days. Sure, we’re still picking peppers, and a bit of beans and okra here and there, but the abundance of late spring and early summer is gone. A few more weeks and we can think about sowing fall and winter crops.
I have been gloriously excited about the Seminole pumpkin bed. Finally, we have fruit! There are at least five small pumpkins out there and one morning as I went out to try to help some pollination along by hand I noticed that the bumblebees were handling it just fine—there were several bumbles in each flower!
One aspect of having the vine as well as two other squash vines is that we do have an abundance of squash flowers. That means I could actually get around to eating them as I’ve seen many others do. Maybe it is time to look outside the box a bit for our harvests.
A look at the okra and cowspeas, Big Red Ripper (Mandy). I may have screwed up by planting the cowpeas in the same spot as where the sugar snap peas were located. Being that peas (and cowpeas) are nitrogen fixers I think they have been quite happy to grow but not produce due to that situation of ample nitrogen. This is just my theory—the other is that it is too shady back that direction but I don’t think that’s the case. I did see a flower or two a few days ago and then I thought I saw a pea forming but when I went back out I couldn’t find it. I’m kicking myself a bit but that was an open space at the time and I went with it.
The okra has begun producing well, enough for a few pods every couple of days. I’m eating it raw now and am loving it! In fact it is my new favorite raw edible in the garden—not slimey at all! You do have to watch even more for tougher pods than if you would if you were frying it, though, because woody okra is not delightful to chew raw!
Forest is continuing to love chowing on fennel leaves when he goes out to the garden. I’m sure he will be happy to know dill season is around the corner once again; just need to get more dill seeds!
Though I do enjoy the upcoming cool weather more than the humidity of the summer, I will be sad to have evenings outside dwindle down. The very best thing is getting an hour or so outside after dinner and having Forest play in the yard with me, even if it is more him playing and me pulling weeds. He does love to check out earthworms, spiders, and other bugs. At least with the cooler weather there will be camping excursions once again!
One humid morning of July 22nd I had a few hours to myself as Chris took Forest to get a haircut and do a few errands. With a plethora of ways I could spend that time I opted to start working on weeding the flower garden path. I worked, head down, for the better part of an hour and a half and was making good progress. Taking a break to rest my neck from the strain of looking down, I happened to look up right at the moment a female monarch was visiting one of the milkweed patches. I watched her and sure enough her ovipositor was dotting the milkweed leaves with eggs!
I’d been itching to start raising some monarch eggs this season, to give the new monarch tent a test run and here was my opportunity. I’d read off an on about raising monarchs but because it was never something that I was going to be immediately doing I never delved too far into the research. So, off I went to do a little more reading and fashioned up a container to hold the eggs (still attached to their milkweed leaf) until the caterpillars hatched. A large yogurt container worked perfectly and out I went, looking for eggs. I had a good idea where eggs had been laid but it took some time to peer under each leaf to find them. I ended up with 8 eggs that afternoon.
Every day for the next five days I checked the container looking for hatchlings but none were there until the morning of 7/26 when all but one had hatched! I kept the unhatched one in the yogurt container and moved the other seven to an old Tupperware plate and put a few leaves of milkweed in it and put them into their tent on the back porch. The final egg hatched overnight the following day.
It was exciting to have these teeny tiny little beings that are, at first instar, resemble nothing like what you would recognize as a monarch caterpillar. But they were hungry little creatures and their frass resembled pepper at that point. It was easy to move the leaves to a temporary holding station and dump the frass out, wipe it if needed, and put the leaves back.
That weekend I was planning on attending my niece and nephew’s birthday party up in DFW so I knew I would need to take the caterpillars with me. I had read that people used floral tubes to keep the stems of milkweed fresher and from drying up as fast as they do without being in the tubes, but getting to a store to buy those hadn’t been easily accessible to me. Since I was going to be at my parent’s house that weekend I knew I could pop into a hobby store easily and get some. While I also had three individual plants potted up that I could have taken with me, I only threw some fresh leaves onto the plate and packed the caterpillars up in the back of my car for the ride up to DFW. I had confirmed with my mom that she still had plenty of milkweed in her yard so I wasn’t worried about having milkweed for the weekend.
It was on the drive up there that evening that I remembered my dad sprayed their backyard for mosquitoes. They have a horrible problem with them, everyone gets eaten to pieces up there if you spend any time in the yard, so I don’t fault them for trying to control that. But I wondered about what the spray was he was using. Because if there is one thing I’ve learned is that chemicals are not actually as targeted as people like to think. The bottle might say it is for a specific pest but if you actually read the label the list of other species targeted usually gets broader. This particular bottle including several caterpillars in its fold out information sheet and that sealed the deal—Mom’s milkweed wasn’t going to work. Now, my dad had sprayed several weeks prior but the label indicated the chemical was supposed to keep working for, I think, up to two months. I wasn’t willing to chance it.
I was left with trying to buy non-chemically treated milkweed if I could find it or look for wild milkweed. I had previously known there were milkweed patches in some empty fields a few blocks from their house but after almost 32 years of living in that house those fields had now become houses. This was a recent development, too, within the last year. I could not find milkweed close-by. Another alternative was to hit up Tandy Hills Natural Area in east Fort Worth. We were heading to that part of town for dinner Saturday evening so I kept an eye out for milkweed on the way and knew we could likely get some from Tandy Hills if I didn’t see any. I spotted some milkweed in some fields off of Beach Street, between Tx 121 and I-30 and made a mental note to stop there if none was found at Tandy Hills. Well, none was found at Tandy Hills so we pulled off on our way home to those empty lots and I grabbed a few leaves to tide them over until I got home the following day.
In between this time, two caterpillars disappeared. I later learned monarch caterpillars can cannibalize each other. Oh, great! I suppose I could have also lost them when I was changing out their plates but I was trying to be careful, so who knows. The milkweed I had found on Beach Street was green milkweed, Asclepias viridis, and I knew I could find more on my way home along I-35, along the strips between the highway and the access roads, on my way home. Sure enough, just outside of the far suburbs of Fort Worth the milkweed started showing up more. I popped off one exit and slowly drove the access road before I pulled over to run out and grab a few more leaves to supplement them until we got home. That made the caterpillars happy and I was glad to pop in some fresh leaves into the floral tubes I had bought while in Fort Worth.
My lesson in all of that is not to trust that chemicals aren’t being used on your planned milkweed stock and that your previously known wild milkweed habitat might now be human habitat instead.
After all of that, things went along swimmingly for the most part. One caterpillar did die after we returned home; I’m not sure if the stress of trying to figure out the milkweed situation did that or if it would have happened anyway, but I was sad about that happening. I had originally collected eight eggs and was now down to five caterpillars and I wanted to have those five succeed into becoming butterflies.
Over the next few days they changed instars, molting and growing up. Along with that was a more voracious appetite so I began moving planting into the tent. The tent I had flagged on Amazon that my MIL had bought for me for my birthday was fine and worked great but I quickly realized that I really should have gotten one that was a little taller on all sides so that my plants would fit in there properly. I ended up flipping the tent tall-wise, which put the plastic bottom as a side instead of a bottom and one of the shorter mesh ends as the bottom. I still had to trim off the top of the plants I put in there and I ended up putting the tops into floral tubes for them to chow. Since then I have gone around the milkweed patches looking for smaller, single plants to pot up and now have more containers that I can switch out. For further caterpillars I raise I will likely employ more of the floral tubes with leaves until I can get my plants recovered and new leaf growth going.
By the following weekend of 08/4-08/05 they were all in instars 4 or 5, and getting fat and happy. Frass was now the typical pellets you see for larger caterpillars so it was harder to clean out. Now that the caterpillars were on plants I could easily just take the plants out and dump out the frass into the flower beds and be done with it. The only bad part was staining on the mesh because I’d had to flip the tent. I think I will put a towel down on that for subsequent rounds.
One caterpillar was noticeably slowing down on Sunday 08/06 and I suspected it was going to pupate soon. Sure enough when I woke up on Monday 08/07 we had a chrysalis! It had formed on a leaf and I didn’t think much of it but when I came home at lunch I found another caterpillar had brazenly eaten around the chrysalis; the chrysalis had been attached to the mid-rib of the leaf, and now the leaf was having trouble supporting itself on the plant and had bent over. I cut the leaf off and found a stick and taped it up to the stick and to one of the containers. I knew that people regularly moved chrysalides, using pins or super glue to stick them other places, or using floss to tie them to something else. Being a newbie to this whole thing I was nervous about doing any of that. Since the chrysalis looked fine attached to the sturdy mid-rib of the leaf I thought it would be fine how it was.
The other four kept chowing down and then the second went into chrysalis overnight 08/7-08/08. And then the third I found the morning of 08/09. The evening of 08/08 I had been having to repeatedly move two of them because they were actively searching for a place to pupate but were huddled up next to the zipper of the tent, not a good place to be! Finally they got the hint and moved to different places that were much safer for them to be and began getting themselves ready to pupate. When I came home from lunch on 08/09 I found one of them in the middle of pupating, a situation I had never seen before and had only recently watched on YouTube. It happens so fast, much faster than I imagined! I was planning on working out during my lunch break and when I left the last caterpillar was in its J form and when I got back it had completely pupated. I was gone for about thirty minutes. Quick!
After that things were relatively quiet for a few days. I tried to move some of the frass out of the bottom that I could without disturbing everyone but it was difficult to do. On 08/12 I noticed chrysalis #2’s leaf had started dying so I really needed to move it and that prompted me to finally research securing them by other means. A few YouTube videos and I was more confident so I grabbed my floss and got myself together and got out there to fix the two chrysalides that needed help. First I tied up and secured the first one I had moved because it was easier to get to and would be a good trial run of the process. It was easy so that helped me feel better about doing the second, which also went fairly easily.
On Sunday 08/13 I noticed that the first chrysalis was darkening along the bottom, slowly getting darker along the entire chrysalis by the next day. That Monday evening I wondered when it would eclose and by Tuesday morning I had my answer with a butterfly hanging outside of the chrysalis drying its wings! That happened a lot faster than I expected!
By this time the second chrysalis was also darkening and now that I knew how fast the transformation went I was ready for another one on Wednesday morning. Sure enough when I got downstairs Wednesday morning the second one had its wings completely unfurled and a third had had eclosed but had its wings still crumpled a bit. It was definitely fresh out of the chrysalis! The last two were very dark in their chrysalis and you could see their wings; they would emerge that morning while I was at work, that was plain to see.
When I got home for lunch on Wednesday all four were emerged and the two from that morning were very active and ready to get going and out into the world. I opened the tent and after a little hesitation the first two flew out and fluttered off into the world. The other two that had only emerged a few hours earlier weren’t quite ready and were content to beat their wings just a little and continue hanging from the top of the tent. I let them be and kept them for evening when Forest would be around to help release them. In all there were four males and one female.
After they were released, it took some getting used to not looking out the back door to the tent to see how the caterpillars were faring. Yesterday I cleaned up the tent. I’ve been watching for more females visiting the milkweed to deposit eggs but until yesterday morning I had only been seeing a variety of males nectaring in the garden. Some of them have had quite a trek as they’ve moved south, with wings beaten up and worn. One opted to end his life cycle in the garden. I found him laying in the middle of the path with fire ants trying to work on decomposing him. Life.
I did finally see a female depositing eggs yesterday morning so Forest and I went out searching for more eggs. Because I wasn’t actively looking where she was laying her eggs at the time it took a little more effort to find the eggs and I came out with ten. I am sure there are more, though.
And so I’ll go for round two!
How to Raise Butterflies Inside
Raising Monarch Resources
Part I: How to Raise Monarch Butterflies at Home
How to Raise Monarch Butterflies at Home Yes, this is a different link but similar title.