OE in Danainae
Should I, or shouldn't I? With so many folks here that can't seem to handle doing what has to be done, I've always been reluctent to respond to discussions about OE in those species infected by it (plexippus, gilippus, etc). Maybe its time since it is coming up again in multiple threads, and remaining quiet does more harm than good.
At least most of you folks in the east don't have to deal with it as often or as seriously as the rest of us do, thanks in part to your large land mass and shear numbers present in the east. OE is at least three times worse in the west, and maybe 10 times worse in the non migratory colonies, like in HI and along our extreme southern borders (and south of some of them).
It surprises me though how many of you try to allow OE parasitized livestock go through their complete metamorphosis, and set emerged adults free that are infected but survived to that stage. Both practices simply spread the infestation throughout the colony. Much better for the colony would be to destroy any livestock (and any around them) that are even suspected of having OE when the earliest signs of it show up in the lava, pupa or adults. That means the entire brood and anything associated with them. Loosing the few you are rearing and the plants in your gardens they were found on is far better than helping OE spread by not destroying all of them, and sterilizing any equipment used for them. Instead of helping the species as you are trying to do, you are in fact hurting it AND actually killing far more individuals then those you were rearing. Every future generation from infected adults will most likely also be infected. Fortunately OE infected adults are weaker, don't fly as far or live as long, and some may not even mate... its those that do that keeps OE going strong.
While there are other ways to detect OE early even without a lab, some easy clues for the layman might help. OE is not easy to detect in ovum just by inspection, although if laid by an infected female they might contain the protozoa, and will certainly have dormant OE spores present on the egg and the surrounding host plant. A newly emerged larva will assure it's infection when it eats its egg capsule and the surround host plant. And the infected larva will pass the infection to other larva present via its frasse and any reguritated fluids. Larva that are listless, take longer than normal to complete instar stages, are stunted, not robust and plump, discolored in patches or have trouble pupating are all early signs that OE may be present. Discolored, even if only in small spots, lack of plumness and failure to respond to touch are indicators of OE in pupa long before they turn into a black, smelly mess (same as with larva). In adults, many with OE will never escape their pupal case or fully spread, some that do form will have shorter or unproportional forewings than normal, some will be discolored and all will be weak and short lived.
It's a personal thing I guess, but IMO any livestock in question with even the slightest doubt should be destroyed immediately whether its OE, some other parasite or a viral or bacterial infection. And those suspected of having the later two should be treated the same as OE with the entire brood destroyed.
Some will do the right thing, some will not, so all just FWIW. I learned long ago not to take chances with suspect livestock as more could always be obtained later. But only you can decide what course to take with your livestock.