Friday, July 1, 2011

The Butterfly Effect

Sadly, both Wings and Plum are gone.  One morning, Plum was no longer in her enclosure; we're not exactly sure what happened.  The next morning,  Melanie found Wings lifeless at the base of her home.  Melanie was quite sad.  No matter how much we understand that their passing is a natural and inevitable part of life, it's still hard to see it happen, especially when you're 7.

And, when you're a 7 year old girl overflowing with emotion and creativity, a good-bye tribute is a must.  Melanie took her time to prepare a farewell picture and message for Wings.  Today, we created an envelope out of the paper and placed Wings inside.  This precious envelope was buried in the garden.  A far cry from how we did things on the farm when I was growing up, but hey, why not.  Who knows what Melanie will take away from this moment.  It may not be the original "butterfly effect", but it is a butterfly effect none the less.

Good bye Wings!
On a more positive note, several of Wings' eggs have already hatched!  We have found three tiny black swallowtail instar caterpillars. Black swallowtail caterpillars go through 5 instar (developmental, molting) stages.  Their appearance and size changes quite significantly between most stages.  Right now, they're black, spiny, 2mm long with just a tiny bit of white around the middle.   These guys are extremely small ; luckily Aidan has a good eye.
Wings' eggs with some brown markings indicating the caterpillar inside is almost ready to come out.

Two tiny instar caterpillars.
We also adopted a stage 2 or 3 instar caterpillar from our neighbours' parsley plant.   It was bigger (1-2cm), black with orange spikes and a bigger white middle section. It has grown very rapidly and seems to be in the final caterpillar stage.

"Courtney Junior" the adopted caterpillar

If all those eggs hatch, we're going to need more dill and parsley to feed them all!

Over at the monarch enclosure, we just discovered they're hatching too!

And the caterpillars in our open space milkweed patch have been growing like crazy.

monarch eggs hatching and about to hatch
How many monarch caterpillars can you find?

"Mom, I think they're ready to hold now."
 What fun.


Becky said...

I hope your butterfly nursing has come along OK since this post. I had this bookmarked and I hope it`s useful for you:

Take care,


Getty Stewart said...

Hi Becky,thanks for the link. Some of the monarch caterpillars on our garden plants have turned into chrysalises, the ones in the enclosure are growing rapidly, as are the black swallowtails. Very fascinating to watch.