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Sleeving

Posted by drzoidberg 7A MD (My Page) on
Sun, Jul 26, 09 at 10:19

In another thread ladobe wrote:

>Sleeving in the wild was something I often did to take a >little strain off all the bugs I had going on at home. It >has to be done right for the livestock to survive, but it >is a great alternative. .... Good tool to learn how to >use.

I've got a couple of sleeves and I'd very much like to know how to use them correctly. I'm not sure the butterfly populations around here can tolerate much more of my trial and error learning.

ladobe, and others, please share your experience about how to do sleeving right. Thanks


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Sleeving

I've done it in the past, and I just zipped the sleeve up around the part of the host plant where the caterpillar/s was/were, then tied it as tight as I could to keep them from crawling out the sides. I'd check the sleeves several times a day - I don't know how big your sleeves are, but if they're small, cat poop will accumulate quickly, so you'll need to open it up enough to dump it out. When the cat has eaten most of the leaves within the sleeve, you need to move the cat and the sleeve to another spot on the host plant. Sometimes this is tricky, because when cats are molting, they get real still and shouldn't be moved. If a cat doesn't want to move off it's hind legs, don't try to force it - it's probably molting and should be left alone.
After the cat pupates and makes its chrysalis, you'll probably want to move it to a safe place outside of the sleeve, into a good butterfly cage that you buy or make. Unless your sleeve is extremely big, there won't be enough room in it for the cat to successfully emerge. You can make a container from an old bucket or various other containers covered with bridal veil material for ventilation. The container needs to have sticks or other material in it for the butterfly to hold onto in the upside down position after it emerges, or the sides of the container need to be rough enough, not slick, that the butterfly can climb them without falling down. It also needs to be big enough for the butterfly to exercise its wings before release.
I found raising cats in sleeves to be more trouble than raising them in cages, and I don't do it any more - good luck!
Sherry


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RE: Sleeving

drzoidberg,

How detailed do you want it? LOL

Easiest for me might be to just answer specific questions for those with some experience using them. They are a great tool and easy to use if used right with a little planning ahead.


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RE: Sleeving

I have 7 sleeves over Monarch eggs in my garden now. One is a 10x20 sleeve from Live Monarch Foundation. The others are 6 inch chiffon "bridal bags" that were discussed in another thread. I didnt think about frass building up in the small bags. That does sound like a lot trouble. Thanks for those pointers misssherry.

I think maybe I'll use the bags to get the cats started and then bring them in to an enclosure after an instar or two.

One pointer I can provide to those less experienced than me is make sure the plant or stalk you put the sleeve on can support its weight. i put my large sleeve on a sturdy stalk of a purple milkweed but the next day that stalk was snapped in half from the weight. I took the egg leaf off and brought it into my enclosure.

ladobe, whatever level of detail you are in the mood for is appreciated. Maybe what you think are the most important success factors beginners should know. Thanks


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RE: Sleeving

Larry,
You mentioned once that you make your own sleeves. How?
Linda


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RE: Sleeving

drzoidberg,

There is actually a lot of particulars for using sleeves right for different applications and for different circumstances. Why I didn't want to take the time to do a "FAQ" all at once. LOL The answers will come, a piece at a time though I'm sure if folks keep the thread alive.


Sherry,
It doesnt surprise me you got frustrated with sleeves because of how you tried to use them as rearing cages at home. My main purposes for sleeves was to hold larva I found on a hike or drive to be picked up on the way back, to hold over several days on camping or business trips and to contain gravid females to obtain eggs from on similar trips. Close to home I sometimes used them to hold livestock until I could free up a rearing cage at home, even for several days, but I could tend them daily because they were close by. I also sometimes had to rely on them to house livestock many miles from home that used LFPs that would not survive growing in my garden at home, that were not suitable for rearing from cuttings at home and that I could only go to check on the weekends. So with these yes I was using them as rearing cages. But sleeves were never to take the place of my rearing, flight or mating cages at home. As I said in the other thread "sleeving in the wild".

Larry


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Making Sleeves

Elisabeth & Linda,

Making sleeves...
Sleeves are to contain and protect livestock, with the protection being from their natural predators and the environmental conditions (placement). So to start with youll want to use good materials. I tried just about everything over the early years, and found what worked best was polyester netting with a tight weave. 25 thread count will work, but 50 is better and 100 is too tight (restricts air flow too much). Poly netting is a relatively strong and snag free material, so with care they can last for decades (some of my sleeves are over 30 years old). Doubt youll find this material at Wally World, and maybe not even the corner fabric store. But if you live near a city big enough to have a textile distributor itll save you having to order it by the bolt like I did. If you dont care about sleeves that will last forever, they can be made from other netting material. But the 50 thread count is what is important as it will stop even the smallest predator yet still allow good air flow. I used green poly netting rather than the white or off white mainly because the color blends in with most plants and so is not as noticeable when I leave sleeves unattended out in the wilds. Helps keep vandalism way down AND doesnt attract the interest of birds, squirrels, etc either like white does. I used carpet thread to sew them with for its extra strength and water resistance. For the ties I used olive drab 550 parachute cord (the real stuff). Its easy to tie in a bow that can be pulled as hard and tight as you want, it will stay tied and yet still come untied easily. It stands up to water, the sun and hundreds of uses and yet remains as good as new. Even for an all thumbs guy like me when it comes to sewing machines, they are very easy to make on one. Cut fabric to your determined size, sew rolled hems in each end with enough room for the ties to thread through (do not sew the ties in). Then sew the whole sheet into a tube lengthwise with a rolled hem and you have a sleeve. BTW, make (or turn them) so that your hems are all on the outside in use so they will be more snag free when sliding them onto a plant). Cut your ties to length, fire weld the ends of them, thread through the hems on both ends and you have simple but very useable sleeves that will probably last a lifetime. Even I could make a dozen or two per hour on the sewing machine depending on size.

A note about size. Let your intended uses determine sizes. It is a very good idea to make several sizes. Commercial sleeves tend to be way too small, have silly additions that you really dont need (like zippers, plastic viewing windows, etc). I think my smallest sleeves are probably finished to about 10" in diameter by 18"-20" long, and I have had sleeves that were 6 X 15 (yes, feet) to handle complete branches for species like late instar silkmoths that need so much fresh food. Think about the plants youll be putting your sleeves on to get an idea on sizes, or with experience youll learn what youll need. For larva leave plenty of extra room for gravid females no extra room.

Larry


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RE: Sleeving

drzoidberg,

Live Monarch doesn't sell sleeves. They sell socks/bags. Sleeves open at the top and bottom so you can put the sleeve at the middle of a branch (or the end).

I have three of their 10" X 20" and two of their 20" X 19" (had another but some animal tore it to shreds).

They work well IF you are using them on an upright branch or an upright plant. That way the frass collects at the sock's opening so it is easy to let the frass out.

If you use them on a horizontal branch, make sure the clear plastic window is on the "up" side. If it is down, it will act like a bucket and collect rain water, which turns into a brown icky mess because of the frass which is also there.

Yesterday was a big reminder about why I like sleeves vs. these bags. I have the 3 10"X20" bags on some mystery tree/bush with drooping branches. Rained about 9 hours yesterday. I need to empty the frass. First bag has 5 2nd instar cecropias on the bag. Good chance they need to molt so I'm not going to move them and I cannot turn the bag inside out because I might harm the cats. Turning the bag upside down does nothing because the frass is just a soggy mess stuck at the bottom. I'll have to wait until the cats move and/or the frass dries out. Until then, I have a frass situation which attracts flies and might cause my cats health problems.

KC

Here is a link that might be useful: Rearing sleeve picture


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RE: Sleeving

Larry,

Thank you. This is very helpful.

Linda


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More on Sleeving

No doubt a "bag" would really impose severe limitations that you don't have with a sleeve as KC suggested. I already commented on the silly windows.

Dealing with frass...
Sleeves installed both horizontal and vertical have their benefits when it comes to dealing with frass, but I still feel horizontal or an orientation halfway between the two (approx 45 degree) has the fewest problems. By using an over-sized diameter sleeve it will have a natural "belly" hanging well below the fresh plant material for horizontal orientation that will tend to catch the frass. You can affect the same "belly" with a 45 degree or vertical orientation by stripping some fresh plant material and leaving only a bare stem in the bottom portion of the sleeve. The cats will seldom travel down to either "belly". So with horizontal its a simple matter to open the end of the sleeve on the terminal end of the branch(es), bend down towards the ground and gently shake out the frass. And for the 45 degree or vertical sleeve open the bottom or "trunk" end of the sleeve and do the same. If you are careful it will cause very little disturbance to the cats, even those molting or pupating.

Note on enough food...
As the cats grow they not only will eat more plant material but they will also accept older plant material. So if you plan to keep the cats in a sleeve through most of the rearing process, plan ahead for it. You've got it made if the LFP is one with long branches. Use a sleeve large enough for what they will become. Start that sleeve near the terminal branch end for the smaller cats on the newer growth and simply slide it towards the "trunk" end when you have to move it for more food as the cats grow. You can "inch it" along every couple of days rather than try to move it full length all at once. Most important placement will be when the cats are in the last instar and you don't want to move them while they pupate. If you do have to move the sleeve for more plant material, plan ahead for it too. Best is usually to start another sleeve at the new location and start moving the cats before they have used up all the food where ther are. That way if any are molting or pupating, you don't have to disturb them with a move until they have completed either one.

Dealing with environmental conditions...
In a normal rain, with proper placement the sleeve will not get very wet. In a deluge, the sleeves are going to get soaked and there is little you can do to stop it. Makes it even more important that the sleeves are made from material that permits good air flow and will dry faster. Another detrimental condition is temperature regulation in the sleeves. Nothing like sun baked cats for dinner. Another is humidity if not in the rainy season. Placement, placement, placement!

Placement of your sleeves is by far the most important aspect of using sleeves. You want them to contain way more than enough fresh plant material for the livestock you have in them to last for however long you will leave them in that same spot PLUS half again as much more. You want them in filtered light, not out in full direct sunlight. You want them to get the benefit of prevailing breezes and so oriented on that side of the plant. And you want to waterproof them from rain as much as possible by putting them towards the interior of the plant rather than on outer branches. All of these factors kind of compliment each other if you study the plant when picking your spot for the sleeve. If its not the rainy season plan on misting one end of the sleeves up to several times a day with a hand spray bottle if you can. Another change, if its getting close to the colder season orient the sleeves on the warm side of the plant instead of the breezy side, and with more direect sun light.

Notes of gravid females...
Ideally you want to keep the female on the LFP 100% of the time, so use a sleeve that the branch(es) will completely fill with a very slight amount of compression. This will force the female to actually crawl through the plant to move around. Place it half in filtered and half in direct light where it will get a direct breeze, and mist it as often as you can on the direct light end. The combination of strong light, heavy air flow and the increased humidity will encourage egg laying. Also, if you feed the females several times a day as well it will increase egg production.

Almost everything in rearing lepidoptera is logical if you'll take a moment and think about it. No need to make it any harder than you have to.

Larry


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Sleeve FAQ

Guess this is turning into a FAQ. ;) What can I say, it's 6 AM, I've been up all night again and it gave me something to do for a while. LOL


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RE: Sleeving

That's a BIG sleeve, Larry!
Sherry


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RE: Sleeving

Naw - just a medium sized one. I've had sleeves that would engulf an entire small tree if it had upright growth.


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RE: Sleeving

Wow, great information all. Thanks. I had been under the impression that sleeves (socks) would be the ideal, no-fuss way to go. Now I see it's more complicated than that.


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RE: Sleeving

Thanks Larry and KC for the info. Always something to learn here! Now if I could just find some darn moths to raise.
-Elisabeth


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RE: Sleeving

This was about to disappear and I wanted to keep it around.

I ordered some material from BioQuip a few days ago. I'm going to try to replicate what Larry described. I could use some sleeves that have longer lifespans than the ones I've been using.


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RE: Sleeving

I am bumping this because I have a question.

KC which netting did you order from Bioquip? How did your sleeves work? I need to make some. I used some tulle and this most definitely does not work. Came home to find a wasp eating a cat through the netting.

Elisabeth


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RE: Sleeving

I'm surprised I did not link the webpage where I got the Bioquip #. I'll link it below now. The Bioquip # is 7250B. The material you end up getting from Bioquip is not static since the material I bought from them last year is not the same as the previous material I got from them. On the plus side, my wife says the newer stuff is much easier to work with. I just hope it holds up well like the older stuff.

If you look at the link, you'll see they make their sleeves using adhesive. I have not tried it. My wife sews mine. I use the parachute cord recommended by Larry.

Here is a link that might be useful: Sleeves for rearing Lepidoptera larvae on live plants


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bioquip

Thanks KC;
I had the bioquip site up. I just wasn't sure which fabric to order. I thought about the green polyester but thought if you had worked with it and hated it....

E


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RE: Sleeving

I had success with organza bags with draw strings that are made for wedding favors. The weave is much tighter than tulle. I don't know how long they'll last, but they were cheap, so I don't care too much.


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RE: Sleeving

I raise all my giant swallowtails in wedding bags. But when it comes to big moth caterpillars, a wedding bag holds about an hour of food.


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