Well, okay, 58.
When I was out gathering milkweed for one of the "last" times, I found 2 cats. One didn't look good, and it did die a couple days later. The other didn't waste any time pupating along with a lot of the previous ones, so I was finally cat-free, which was a relief as nice milkweed was getting harder to find this late in the season. Then, our plumber brought his kids by the other evening, and they were very interested in our little Monarch project. So much so that the little girl just had to have a look for more. Of course she found a caterpillar. Then Shannon found one in a small milkweed that sprouted up in one of our raised vegetable beds. Fifty-eight total then, with 5 parasitized and one dead. Not a bad survival rate, eh? As I write this, I have 4 chrysalides about to eclose (emerge) next to my desk. We're in the midst of another series of deluges of biblical proportions (hence, the plumber's visit), and I decided running back and forth between my office and the studio could lead to an even clammier day, so I brought them in. No matter how often I see them emerge, it's always fascinating. I was on Skype with my parents the other day, and had a chrysalis right in front of the camera so they could see one eclose. Both in their eighties and neither had ever witnessed it. It was pretty cool to be able to share that with them.
Below is me with Todog. That's Godot spelled backwards - because I was waiting for him to leave. He's actually number 46 (aka Monarch Watch WMW 859), the one I found had insinuated himself into the studio. He was my only emerger yesterday, and while he was attracted to windows, he was most decidedly not a fan of the wind, which damn near blew me (us) unto Minnesota. I brought him into the office for a bit while we waited for things to calm down outside. I'd say he felt rather at home. (Rose asked me how it felt to be pollinated. The woman's a stitch.)
Todog finally got fed up with being cooped up and flew out of the studio during a lull in the wind. I fear he may not have survived the storm last night. Bummer, cuz I think there was some bonding there.... I took 2 chrysalides to a nearby school on Tuesday. I called the teacher, Birgitta Meade, with whom I'd been trying to work things out schedule-wise and said, "I've got 2 that should be out within the hour," and she said, "Let's do this," so I drove to the school and had a nice talk with her 6th grade science class. While we waited for the Monarchs, we went out into the wildflower and vegetable garden in front of the school to look for pollinators. Birgitta picked a male and a female blossom from the zucchini and showed the kids why pollinators are so important. Back inside, I showed them the gallery here on the site, and they were intrigued by and asked about a number of the ones posted there. By the time classes changed, the Monarchs still hadn't emerged, so they went with the kids to English class, but still didn't open until the 8th graders were in there a while later! I was very impressed by Birgitta's knowledge of and the kids' interest in pollinators. It was an encouraging experience. Okay, well, since I started writing this post, there are 2 new Monarchs in the world. Wish them well for their journey to Mexico!