Saturday, February 16, 2013

Damp Wings and Early Flight


Did you know that just before emerging, a Monarch chrysalis will turn dark and you can see the markings of the butterfly's wings?  My stowaway greenhouse guests are giving me a chance to watch their development from a front row seat.  


You did know about the color change?  Well, have you seen a Monarch immediately after emergence as it unfurls its damp wings and pale green jewels of liquid drip from their surfaces?


This is the second of my unexpected guests to fly off this week.  Although I'd happily serve them nectar and allow them to stay until it's warmer, captivity isn't the best thing for a Monarch.  I open the greenhouse door, and like a worried parent let them find their way.

All material © 2013 by Vicki Blachman for Playin' Outside
Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.


Sunday, February 10, 2013

Butterfly Bumper Crop


Winter 2013 has been so mild, most of the plants we moved into the new greenhouse probably could have stayed where they were.  However, their tiny hitchikers have provided a reason to learn a new word - "chrysalides".  It's the preferred plural form of chrysalis, and I looked it up today after finding 6 Monarch chrysalides in all their celadon and gold beaded glory in the greenhouse, along with a newly emerged adult.

Thinking it would give the (outside) butterflies an early start, I was overwintering several tropical milkweed plants in the greenhouse as well.  Four are blooming and had provided a temporary nectar source, but unfortunately not enough to sustain the adult..  As the day warmed, I gently showed him the door.  Another reason to be grateful for our mild winter and all of the other plants that have started blooming early.


 Can you find three chrysalides hidden in the ponytail palm foliage?
This guy was a little easier to spot.  It's on the leg of one of the plant benches.


At some point, I had hoped to learn more about how to hatch and release Monarchs, but it looks like it's going to be on the job training this year.  If you have experience with this, please leave a comment.  
And wish them luck!


All material © 2013 by Vicki Blachman for Playin' Outside
Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.