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Expanding Nursery and Mixed Feelings

July 29, 2016

OK, well my Monarch nursery has got me a bit rattled. I decided I needed to move one chrysalis because it wasn't in a good place for the butterfly to emerge and dry its wings. I went through the procedure for moving them that I had previously done successfully - tie off the stem and then separate it from the silk holding it in place, leaving just enough silk to keep the thread on the stem - but I didn't detach it from its hold on the glass correctly and it fell to the bottom of the bowl. I then spent a nerve-wracking hour trying to tie thread to that little stem and discovered it's hard and slick as glass, narrowing to a point that makes it impossible for the threat to stay in place. Finally, I came in to the computer and did some research. I saw in more than one place that you need - get this - a hot glue gun to attach the stem to something. So, I texted Shannon to bring one home, and then with unsure hands tried to glue it to some screen. I dropped it to the floor.  Twice. Talk about killing something with kindness... I did manage to attach it to the screen, then we sat down with martinis and I tried to drown my guilt and sorrow.  Didn't work.

That was 2 days ago, and when I checked on the babes and chrysalises today, it looked like it might still be progressing normally. I won't be convinced I didn't kill my oldest Monarch until I open my hand and it flies away.

Everyone else seems to be doing fine. I have 5 chrysalises (or chrysalides) and, as of today, 6 caterpillars.  I found 3 young caterpillars on the swamp milkweed in front of my studio, one of which was on a milkweed just sprouting, so far too small to sustain it and far too removed from larger plants for the caterpillar to move, so I brought that one in. Shannon convinced me that given the mortality rate of more than 90% in the wild - and my success rate to this point of losing only one out of 9 caterpillars (so far) - it would probably have a better chance with me. Then I found another one. To meddle or not to meddle... Given eggs are down 75% this year, I went with meddle. Each egg/caterpillar I encounter just seems too precious to leave vulnerable.

I promise not to try to tie off any more chrysalises.

Still not seeing many pollinators around here.  A few more honey bees and 4 bumblebees out there today, but it's chilly and overcast, and I noticed the pollen is really showing on the flowers, so maybe tomorrow will be more encouraging.




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