10 Monarch Cats!!! YAY!

imabirdnutAugust 6, 2011

I had seen a single female monarch a few weeks ago but didn't think anything of it! I had had a few queens but no cats that I could tell from them! I saw an eaten leaf on my new swamp milkweed & low & behold...a last instar monarch cat! Then after looking again for the next couple of days...I collected 10! All but one has already pupated!

They are the only cats I've seen except for a few BST cats on my now shriveling parsley & dill & some early spring PVST cats on my pipevines!

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caterwallin

Wow, that's great, Lila! I think Monarchs are pretty scarce this year. I know that's the case here. I raised half a dozen this year, whereas I usually would have raised a couple hundred by now. I've had a male Monarch hanging around here for a few weeks now nectaring on the coneflowers, tropical milkweed, tithonia, and Verbena bonariensis. Then about a week ago, another one showed up and I got all excited...but then I saw that it was another male. Oh well. Better luck next time, I guess.

I just think that because the Monarchs showed up so early this year and there wasn't much milkweed available for them, that screwed things up and they're kind of scarce this year. This year I have loads of milkweed and no Monarchs and last year I had eggs galore and because of the dryness and extreme heat, my milkweed didn't do well at all. Hopefully things will straighten out someday. I hate to see their numbers dwindle.

I raised some BST cats and released the butterflies a couple of months ago and haven't seen any since. I raised about 80 PVS and released them around the same time as the BST and I haven't seen any of those since then either. I've been seeing Spicebush Swallowtails nectaring in the garden for a few weeks now, but I never find eggs or cats on my spicebush. I've had the bushes for 4 years and nada. I think that they must use the sassafras trees that are in the woods.

I'm not upset that things are slow now because I have plenty to keep me busy. I hope things go well for you with the cat raising. Have you raised any GST lately? I saw a butterfly here on Wednesday but haven't seen it since.

Cathy

    Bookmark   August 6, 2011 at 3:17PM
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imabirdnut

Cathy, I haven't had a single GST cat but have seen quite a few adults nectaring on & off this year. All of my rue is dying again...it is in the shade but it's just too hot!!! I bought a Key Lime tree but no cats or eggs so far.
I had a gentleman email me that he had seeds from Ruta odorata(dwarf rue) that would probably do better for my hot summers but I lost the email. He was from the arid part of California & also had GST host tree seeds that might work for my climate but again...I lost the email!!! ;o(((
All the 5 hop ash trees I bought died!!! I'm not sure what happened to them...if they didn't like my slightly alkaline water or what! They all made it through the coldest winter in 20 years but started leafing out & shriveled & died this spring! Not sure what host plant the GSTs use that is native here but I usually have a lot of them flitting through my yard!!!
I saw a male PVST today since April...must have been one of my eclosed babies from earlier in the spring...but not any females.
Last year was a great TST year here, too...but I've only seen one tattered dark female several weeks ago & none since!
I am finally getting lots of GFs...thought they were going to be scarce too but they are rebounding. I don't bring them in to raise...they seem to do great on their own here.
I was really shocked to have these 10 monarch cats but I haven't had a single queen this year like last year. It should pick up in September...that is, IF WE GET ANY RAIN!!!
The deer must be starving because they are eating plants they never touched before...all my daylilies are eaten to the ground along with my hollyhocks, violets, & even my partridge pea is gone!!!
It has been the hottest summer since 1980 & possibly ever!!! SEVERE Drought conditions all over TEXAS & Oklahoma!!!
I just came in from hand watering my tropical milkweed because it was all wilted from the heat!!! Checked our 10 day forcast & no rain & 104+ degree temps every day! YUK!!!

    Bookmark   August 6, 2011 at 4:14PM
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docmom_gw Zone 5 MI(5)

I had one Monarch cat that I had brought in as an egg. It is getting into the later instars and eating more every day. So, I went out to get a larger milkweed plant for him and now I have three cats. There were either small cats or eggs on the milkweed I brought in. I'm hoping this will continue as I feed these cats--finding more eggs and cats as I bring in food for the ones I already have. I wish I could send some of our moisture to Texas and OK, but I'm glad the Monarchs found a hospitable place. Good luck to all in butterflying as everything else.

Martha

    Bookmark   August 6, 2011 at 4:30PM
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caterwallin

Lila, I'm really sorry about your dry weather. It's been dry here this year too, but I know it's not as bad as what you're dealing with in Texas. We're getting a nice rain today, though, so that will help a little bit. I hope that rain finds you too real soon! I can imagine that the deer are starving. I see some in our back yard sometimes and there was one that came pretty close to the house (down by our burn barrel) and it was eating the jewelweed that I didn't get around to pulling out. I got some real nice pics of it.

I have so much rue and nothing here to eat it. Even way up here my rue dies out sometimes. I have 14 plants that are more in the shade than my ones I have/had up in my upper garden. I had 16 up there and most of them died out over the winter if they didn't already die last summer. It was a REALLY hot, dry summer, even worse than this year. The one good thing was that I had lots of butterflies. Anyway, the rue that I have down closer to our house gets a little bit of shade up until about noon, but I still have one of those die every once in awhile. I didn't have a single GST last year to eat it, but I fed pretty many BSTs with it.

I wish there were a way that you could find out what the GST eats there locally, and then you could plant that. I also wish that you knew who that gentleman was who offered you the R. odorata seeds. If you deleted his email by accident, maybe it's still in your "trash". If he emailed you through Gardenweb, perhaps you could make a post here to get his attention and make the subject noticeable, like put RUTA ODORATA in CAPITAL letters.

I'll cross my fingers and hope that you get a female PVST there. I think they're fun to raise. They seem to have more personality than other types. :)

Cathy

    Bookmark   August 6, 2011 at 5:40PM
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misssherry(Z8/9SE MS)

Congrats, congrats, on your monarch babies!

Sherry

    Bookmark   August 6, 2011 at 7:23PM
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terrene(5b MA)

Congrats on your Monarch cats! How exciting to have some new butterfly life, especially under such hot dry conditions. I sure hope you get some rain soon. The drought must be quite stressful for people and wildlife.

Not sure which would be worse, the weather you're having now or the 7 feet of snow (in 6 weeks) and subzero cold we had this past winter!

    Bookmark   August 6, 2011 at 8:57PM
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