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Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Monarch Nursery

I know it's been a long time since I posted anything, but this time I do actually have an excuse! At the middle of July I went in to St. Luke's Hospital in the Texas Medical Center to have a pituitary tumor removed.  Then I spent a week in the hospital (even spent my 60th birthday in hospital, can you believe!!!) and since then have been recovering at home.

I literally spent three weeks in bed but have started to get up and about recently.  I was getting headaches at first but they seem to have resolved now, thank goodness! I'm just asking it easy and not overdoing things.

So while I was in hospital, the garden was more or less left to its own resources.  The weeds, of course, grew rampant.  The milkweed got covered in aphids and other crud.

During my recovery I've been spending time sitting out on the patio and one day I saw this young lady busy at work, laying eggs on the cruddy milkweed.


Then, it happened that an ad popped up on Facebook, for the Monarch Butterfly Kit to raise Monarchs. So I went ahead and ordered it.

I think they are really designed so you can raise Monarch indoors, but we don't really have anywhere that the cats wouldn't get to it, so I opted to put mine in the back corner of the patio.


I put a couple of bricks on the bottom, to stop it getting blown around by the wind. Then I went around collecting some milkweed cuttings that had caterpillars on, and placing them in the little picks filled with water to keep them fresh-(ish). I also took some other cuttings and cleaned them up, hosed off the aphids etc., and put them in there as well.



Within a day, one of the caterpillars had already departed it's milkweed and was climbing to the top of the cage! Then I saw two more heading that way as well!


This morning I was thrilled to see three chrysalises (chrysalides)!!

Today I plan to see if I can purchase some fresh milkweed from one of our local stores, Plants for All Seasons or The Arbor Gate, if they have any.  That way I can rescue some other caterpillars, and even some eggs, from the ratty milkweed in the island beds.

Wish me luck!

Words and photographs by Jayne Wilson, Green and Serene, Jayne's Country Garden.

7 comments:

eileeninmd said...

Hello, wonderful post and info on your monarch garde. They are beautiful butterflies. I have not seen one as of yet this season. I hope you are feeling better. Enjoy your day and the week ahead!

Dorothy Borders said...

What a wonderful way to rescue caterpillars. There are so many enemies/predators out there that only a fraction of them ever make it to adulthood in the wild. I may have to look into getting one of these. Like you, I have a cat "problem," also!

It's great to see you back online and feeling better. Hope you are all the way back up to standard soon.

A Brit in Tennessee said...

I'm saddened to read you have been poorly Jayne, but hopefully now your days are getting brighter.
I love the Monarch butterflies, and their journey is incredible !
The 'starter kit' is great, and I wish you lots of success with it, the butterflies do love that Milkweed :)
Get better dear friend !
~Jo

Denise inVA said...

Dear Jayne, I am wishing you speedy healing. No fun to spend your 60th birthday in hospital but hope you celebrated royally when you felt like it. Fantastic idea to buy the Monarch Butterfly kit. Looks like it is a great success. I have been wondering about buying Milkweed plants myself and am on the lookout.

Jayne said...

Thank you for your kind wishes, everyone. I'm still having to take it easy as I get very tired, very easily.

I was able to find plenty of Milkweed in Plants for All Seasons. They even had a "Raise your own butterflies" sign over it and had kept it trimmed so it was nice and bushy (i.e. plenty of leaves for hungry caterpillars) but wasn't too tall for the cage.

When the sun goes to the other side of the house this evening, I'm going out to rescue some caterpillars from the front flower bed and install them safely in the cage :-)

Pam's English Garden said...

This posting is very timely for me, Jayne, as I feel the need to raise monarchs since they are so rare here now. I'm wondering if it's possible to purchase eggs or caterpillars as I'm not seeing them any more. Sorry about your illness and wishing you a speedy recovery! And a belated happy birthday -- it's time to celebrate now you are up and about. P. x

Jayne said...

I have seen caterpillars for sale in the past, Pam. But I did a search just now and didn't see any. The website I got my cage from has lots of articles about raising Monarchs, including one just recently about hunting for eggs.