Saturday, October 6, 2012

Checkered Whites


I can't say I remember seeing this butterfly in a very long time, even though it is one of three native Whites found in the state of Wisconsin.  In fact, I only remember seeing a few as a child while growing up in New Jersey! Thinking how very different they were from all the "other" white butterflies (later learning they were Cabbage Whites) I'd observed in the garden or chase around in the yard with friends, these certainly caught my attention!  

Yet here they were, about a dozen of them flitting about with the beautiful and equally abundant Dainty Sulphurs in a friend's back yard early in September!  Females are more heavily marked and look dirty or greyish compared to the pristine white of the males.

Left, female; Right, male

Host plants for the Checkered White caterpillars are cultivated and wild crucifers such as cauliflower, broccoli, turnip, cabbage, peppergrass, and shepherd's purse, to name a few.

Less destructive than the imported Cabbage White, I'd like to see more of these native butterflies around!  --LKR

Friday, September 30, 2011

Whither the Monarchs - 9/16/11

Whither the Monarchs - 9/16/11Save Now


Jim of Beaver Creek Reserve did a really nice job with the interview! And, yes, sadly, Monarchs are on the decline. --LKR

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

How To Repair A Butterfly Wing

I've tried to repair butterfly wings, before, and flopped. The poor creatures ended up with weighty wings and couldn't fly. Instead of being released, they became "pets" and were even more a part of our family. That was before I discovered this video!

It does take courage to work on a delicate butterfly, but with this as a guide, it's worth a try! Good luck! --LKR


Thursday, June 23, 2011

Monarch Egg Hatching

I've watched caterpillars hatching, before, and wanted to share what someone else put together. It's a quicky--don't blink! --LKR


Tuesday, May 31, 2011

In The Presence of Monarchs

Around 1pm, today, I went out in search of Monarch eggs. Sometimes it's easier to spot the first egg or larva before ever seeing an adult flying around. Well, did I ever find an egg, then another..., and another. Once back home, I counted 48, repeat, 48 Monarch eggs!!!

A few looked like they will be hatching in a day or two. Soooo, the eggs were divvied up among four baby wipe boxes that were placed into gallon-sized baggies for a little humidity. A tiny bit of humidity is needed so they don't dry up and die. Soon after these hatch, they will be split up into smaller groups.

Later on this afternoon, I spotted my first adult Monarch flying furiously through our yard on a very breezy day! It's so good to have them back!!! --LKR

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Friends Among The Flowers

It was a cold, sunny, breezy day, today, but look what was hanging around our yard! Unfortunately, patchy frost is forcasted for this evening and tomorrow morning.Tiger Swallowtail
Spring Azure
Sulphur, mid flight
Copper
Moth

Can't wait to see what else blows through our yard, this summer!!! --LKR

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Cute And Fuzzy Caterpillar


Isn't he adorable? A couple of days ago, I was planting some bushes and thankfully found him while I was digging. He was relocated to a safer spot, and when I later checked on him, he was happily munching on a blade of grass! He will grow up to be some sort of moth. --LKR

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Blue Morning, Orange Afternoon

We had a ton of rain yesterday with very gusty winds, so this morning, I was totally thrilled to not only see a clear blue sky, but a beautiful Spring Azure playfully flitting around and about my feet!

Later, while planting bushes, a small, fast flying orange and black butterfly whizzed past me. Was it an American Painted Lady or one of the overwintering anglewings like a Question Mark or Comma? After seven months without a butterfly sighting, it's easy to forget the different species flight patterns which help identify them while they're
fluttering about!

Earlier, I had checked our Pearly Everlasting, host plants for the American Painted Lady, for eggs after noticing one of our neighbor's low growing patch of plants blooming. Sometimes, eggs and larvae are easier to spot than an adult butterfly
flying around!

Shortly before dinner, a Cabbage White descended upon our "field" of dandelions in search for the perfect golden flower to nectar and refuel at. Very soon, lilacs will be blooming, beaconing other butterflies like the Red Admiral, Eastern Black Swallowtails, and Tiger Swallowtails.

It's hard to believe we were having snow flurries six days ago!!! Spring is finally here!!! --LKR

Saturday, May 7, 2011

White One!!!

Driving around yesterday in the car with Hubby, I spied my first Cabbage White butterfly of the season! ~~Happy Dance!!!~~

They usually start eclosing ((emerging from the pupae (chrysalis)) when the dandelions begin to bloom, which has been for well over a week..., but it's been so cold and we even had snow flurries this past Sunday and Monday! The butterflies were smart and waited 'til it got warmer!

I just *love* that God-given timing and wisdom you find in nature!!!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Eastern Black Swallowtail Pupae in the Snow

Yesterday, I rescued two of several of our Eastern Black Swallowtail pupae that are overwintering on our front porch. Over the weekend, we had a blizzard where 22" of snow fell!!! It did not just cover the grass, driveway, and street--it also accumulated on our porch, totally burying two butterflies in the making.

Yes, one is brown, while the other is green. Several butterfly species, like the Cabbage Whites, too, can pupate to camouflage themselves in this dormant, defenseless stage. Yet another gift the Creator has given to even one of His tiniest creations! --LKR

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Looky Looky!


Yesterday, as I was cleaning off my car in swirling snow flurries, I found this a frozen caterpillar on our driveway!!! We've had a beautiful, warm fall, so they must be confused. A few weeks ago, I had seen more of these, as well as some of our overwintering Wooly Bear caterpillars that were crawling around! --LKR

Friday, October 22, 2010

This Wasn't Supposed To Happen!

Eeeeek! This wasn't supposed to happen! Not this late in the season!!! But, leave it up to the unpredictability of an Eastern Black Swallowtail. This lovely little girl eclosed (emerged) out of her pupa (chrysalis) seven months too early!Black Swallowtails are one of the many butterfly species that overwinter in the pupa stage, while others like those in the anglewing family hibernate as adult butterflies. Some butterflies, like Frittilaries, overwinter as caterpillars, while others also lay dormant as eggs all winter long. Amazing, huh?! I never cease to be amazed how everything is fearfully and wonderfully created, even the smallest of creatures! --LKR

Friday, September 24, 2010

Eastern Black Swallowtail Larvae

Today, I found 14 Eastern Black Swallowtail larvae on my Rue!!!  They are ranging from 1st to 5th instars.  Simply put, they are from newly hatched to pre-pupae caterpillars. They are both in dark and light forms.

--LKR

Friday, July 30, 2010

American Painted Lady

These colorful caterpillars are the larvae of the American Painted Lady butterfly. They are more black in the earlier instars, not looking too much like the ones here. These are in the 5th instar and will soon be hanging the "J" before pupating. Pupa is another name for chrysalis.These caterpillars feed on everlastings (straw flowers) which are often grown in wildflower gardens. It is also considered a weed by some. However, we have a protected patch of everlasting growing in our lawn where I found these beauties! --LKR

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Butterflies! Butterflies! Everywhere!!!

Well, I spoke too soon, yesterday. This morning, after releasing two more male Monarchs and one female, an early afternoon walk with my neighbor turned up four first instar Monarch cats and one egg! For sure, before we get any more rain, I need to hit the fields and collect more Monarchs!

A bonus: On a hot humid day, the butterflies like to come out to dance in the sky and nectar at flowers. And while we watched, an American Painted Lady began laying eggs on some everlasting, so we'll have another species to raise, this summer! --LKR

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

First Monarch Released!

What a thrill! Our first Monarch, a male, emerged from it's pupa, this morning! He was very eager to get out and experience his freedom of flight! So, off he went into the wild blue yonder!

We have 38 more Monarchs in the pupae stage, with a couple others still in the 5th instar. I have not been able to find any more Monarch eggs or caterpillars in the wild. Not sure if it's because of all the rain we've been having that's knocked them off of leaves, predators that have eaten or carried them off, because we're seeing the effects of the worst recorded deaths of overwintering Monarchs in Mexico from this past winter, or all of the above. We've personally had more Monarchs in different stages, this time of year. --LKR

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

How To Raise Monarchs

We've had a very high success rate raising them in baby wipe boxes with a folded napkin or paper towel at the bottom. For eggs an 1st & 2nd instars where they need more humidity, I slide the boxes into gallon-sized baggies. After that, the boxes are slipped into "tubes" of pantyhose cut to fit the boxes so they have ventilation.

When I worked at Beaver Creek Reserve in the Butterfly House, we used plastic ice cream buckets. The lids were cut out, and plastic mesh you can by in rolls at hardware stores like Menard's were cut down to size. The lids framed and held the mesh into place and worked great. It fits five older to eight younger cats at a time.

I've used the tall Starbucks cups, too, which are very accommodating for a single cat. And, yes, whichever habitat you create for your monarchs, cleanliness is of great importance! Definitely dump the frass daily, and don't over crowd. Bleaching the containers, or at the very least, using hot soap (antibacterial is super!) and water will mean healthier, happier cats and butterflies! :-) Just be sure to never, ever use Lysol which is a pesticide! --LKR

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Snow Flakes?

Both yesterday and today, I did double takes. Something white was in the air! Thankfully, what looked like possible large flakes of snow really were Cabbage Whites! [You just never know, around here--we've had heavy wet snow as late as April 28th!!!]

I knew they'd be seen, soon, as Cabbage Whites emerge from their overwintering pupa stage immediately following the heralding of Azure Blues, and shortly after dandelions begin to bloom.

In only a matter of time, the air will be filled with other bright, beautiful butterfly species!
--LKR

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

I See Blue...

Here's a little Spring Azure, one of two that flew in front of me and Mister Poochie while we were walking in the woods. They are the first to emerge from their overwintering chysalises in the springtime.
Farther down the trail, a Mourning Cloak flew in front of us, landing in a sunny location to soak up some rays to help warm itself. These big, beautiful butterflies are one of the few that overwinter in the adult stage (as butterflies) up north.

It is not unusual to observe one of these maroon and yellow lepidopterans flying about on a warm winter day, or feeding off of tree sap in the sun. In colder weather, the act of shivering aids in warming their cold-blooded bodies. --LKR

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Not A Toy For Toby!

Thought this was too cute. Our "kitten", Toby, just loves the butterflies, as you would imagine. Here, he is watching a newly emerged female Monarch before we released her, yesterday.

If you enlarge this image by clicking on it, you will see black frass which is "caterpillar poopies". Now that all the cats have pupated, I was able to safely clean that out from the bottom of the container! --LKR

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Pereserverance Pays Off!

Yesterday, I made it a point to seek out and rescue Monarch eggs and cats before the expected rains. One open field I normally find them in had turned up dozens of eaten eggs by an abundance of lacewings in that location. Unwilling to allow this to discourage my efforts, I headed off to the woods with my trusty pooch. After two hours of searching, we returned home with 33 eggs and four 1st and 2nd instar cats. Not bad!!!Often, once buds appear on milkweed plants, female Monarchs will lay their eggs on these. Ditto once pods begin to form. Both provide larvae with plenty of food for their ravenous appetites. One difficulty with the pods and buds is that very young cats are difficult to find! --LKR

Friday, June 12, 2009

A Most Unfortunate Encounter

Tragedy struck, quite literally. Driving home this evening with my hubby, a beautiful male cecropia moth flew out into traffic. It was briefly illuminated in our headlights before we struck the poor creature. This is not how I wished it's fate to be.

Silkworm moths, especially larger ones like the luna, promethia, and cecropia (the largest of them all), are on my list of those I wish to rear from egg to adulthood. Happily, we did once raise a female cecropia from a last instar caterpillar, and also had the cocoon of a male that emerged one spring, but I'd love to see the full life cycle and experience more of these magnificent marvels.

On a happier note, earlier today, my son pointed out a giant swallowtail nectaring in Big Falls County Park. Stunning!!! --LKR

Monday, June 1, 2009

Monarch Eggs Are Not On Today's Menu...

Monarch eggs on milkweed leaves

Today, I spotted at least four beautiful green lacewings. They are very beneficial insects that normally eat aphids, and regrettably, butterfly and moth eggs, too. Fortunately, I found these eggs before they did! --LKR

Monday, May 25, 2009

Monarchs

At 2:00pm, a Monarch flew in front of our lilac bushes as I was scanning for an elusive Tiger Swallowtail to photograph. This male Monarch was pristine, flying fast though the rather breezy afternoon under partly cloudy skies. Reported this to Journey North.

Just in case..., I checked for eggs on our common milkweed plants. (I check almost every day.) None--yet! --LKR

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Surprise, Surprise!


I knew there were still some out there, but was totally surprised when I spotted this monarch caterpillar on a particular woody milkweed plant where I rarely find any!

Soon, he will pupate, and after less than two weeks in his chrysalis, will emerge as a strikingly beautiful orange and black winged adult. Those wings will carry him thousands of miles down to his overwintering home in Mexico. --LKR