Saturday, August 23, 2014
here are a few reasons for the gold dots...
camouflage - they reflect colors of the surroundings and break up the shape of the chrysalis
warning - somehow the coloration would fend off predators
protection - they filter particular wavelengths of light which might be harmful to the monarchs
nothing - no function, but just the result of something else in the cuticle
the more i read, it seems to be, that they are points of entry for air entering the chrysalis.
whatever the reason for them... they look like 14kt gold and jade to me... just a beautiful jewel.
Friday, August 22, 2014
the first change is the tentacles will start to shrivel up. the caterpillar is hanging in j position, pumping their body. their skin will start to shrivel up too. there is a green tinge to their body.
and then the skin splits.
it starts at the back of the head and moves up the caterpillars back. the caterpillar is twisting and turning, trying to release itself from it's old skin. it becomes more and more shriveled up as it wriggles free. it even sheds all its facial features.
the 4th picture down is the most fascinating to me. since it was attached to the silk pad with its back legs - and it won't have them soon - a little stick, called a cremaster - pokes out from inside it's body. the cremaster searches for the silk pad and attaches itself to the pad. after it has done this, it can then fully release all of it's old body parts. this is so important because if it does not attach to the pad properly, it would fall to the ground and die, since at this point, it is very delicate - it's a suspended bag of fluid. i had never seen this happen before - but i was looking for it this time... and sure enough - there it was. the cremaster.
he will then twist and turn until all of the old skin drops off, readjusting to it's new body form.
and then it starts... the end of life as a caterpillar, and the beginning of the third stage of life - the chrysalis.
this all happens in a few minutes.
out in the wild it could be up to 40 feet away from the milkweed they were feeding on.
Labels: j position
Thursday, August 21, 2014
of the 10 i was raising - three of them are already chrysalis - three have climbed up the castle and will probably go in 'j position' by tomorrow - and three are in their 5th instar and will probably climb up by tomorrow too.
then there was the little guy... he wasn't growing. he was still in his 3rd instar although they were all born a day or so apart.
i kept watching him - wondering why he wasn't growing... i was rooting for him...
i guess they aren't all going to make it - as sad as that is. i am grateful for the other nine healthy ones.
i have had a few other deaths. i have a spot in the garden, marked by a little crystal, where i bury them. i put some fresh verbena there for him... for the butterfly he would have been.
Tuesday, August 19, 2014
Sunday, August 17, 2014
Friday, August 15, 2014
i got all the babies moved out of the 'nursery' and outside into their 'castle'.
they all seem to be adjusting well... although it is a little harder to keep track of them now. the smaller ones like to hide out under and in between leaves.
i got a picture of this guy right after he molted. you can see his old skin behind him.
Wednesday, August 13, 2014
they are now in their 2nd instar. they are still so tiny. about 1/4" long. their tentacles have grown... and their bright yellow, black and white stripes are visible.
i am caring for 10 babies right now - and they are definitely becoming way more active and curious.
i will keep them inside for a few more days before i transfer them outside to live in their 'caterpillar castle'.
they will be caterpillars for about 14 days.
Tuesday, August 12, 2014
as a caterpillar grows, it molts it's skin 5 times before it becomes a chrysalis. each stage of growth is called an 'instar' - 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th instar.
this guy seems to already be in his 5th instar - he must be pretty stealth to go unnoticed for so long.
Monday, August 11, 2014
Sunday, August 10, 2014
the eggs are ready to hatch. when she first lays them, they are pale yellow. in about 4 days, they get a small black dot on the top of them - this is the caterpillars head. the little caterpillar will eat a hole through its egg shell and crawl out.
you can see the how small they are when born in this picture
Wednesday, August 6, 2014
i cut off the leaf the egg is on and place it on a moist paper towel. this is to avoid potential predators, such as ants, wasps or spiders, from eating the eggs.
in about 4-5 days they will hatch.
today, there were two more females out there laying eggs.
in the meantime... i'll go out in the garden and look for more eggs.
Tuesday, August 5, 2014
monarch butterflies use a combination of visual and chemical cues to find milkweed. once they land on a plant, they use sensory organs on their feet and heads to tell them if it is a milkweed, and the quality of the milkweed. she must have liked my milkweed.
i will now go out and go on a monarch egg hunt :)