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Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Monarch Blessings ~ 2014

On July 4 I found the first of what would turn out to be many Monarch eggs of 2014.  


The little beauty hatched on July 7 and we had been in a whirlwind of activity ever since.


She became this gorgeous butterfly that eclosed on July 30.

Monarch butterfly #1

Monarch butterfly #1

Yesterday, November 4, exactly 4 months after finding that first egg, I released my last 3 butterflies.  
Yes, in November.  
In Pennsylvania.  
That's really not supposed to happen.  The Monarchs should have been long gone on their migration to Mexico by then.  But I found 18 baby caterpillars late in September, 17 of which made it to be butterflies.  

I found them in a patch of milkweed that is along a state highway.  A patch that gets mowed down several times a year.  And even though I called the department in charge of mowing and asked them not to mow, I still knew I had to bring them home and give them a chance.  I'm glad I did because that area was mowed again a couple weeks ago.

I can't possibly show off all 172 Monarch butterflies that we raised this year.  Or the gazillion photos I took of every stage.  :)  Although I may make a collage or something.  We'll see.  There were only 3 that I didn't get a photo of.  They were too anxious to fly away.  

But I will share the last three butterflies.

This pretty lady eclosed last Wednesday, October 29.

Monarch butterfly #170

I placed her on this flower in my neighbor's field and left her there.  However when I woke up Thursday morning, I felt compelled to go check to see if she had flown away.  She hadn't.  It was too cold.  She was in this exact same spot.  So I brought her back inside and fed her.  

She joined me that day on a trip to a local elementary school where I was talking to a classroom of first graders about Monarchs.  They didn't know I was bringing a butterfly with me.  I hadn't known either.  Actually I was a "mystery" guest.  They knew someone was coming but they didn't know who I was or why I was there.  That was fun!

Mrs. K's 1st grade class

My last two butterflies eclosed on Saturday, November 1.  

It has been way too cold to release them so the three last Monarchs have been staying with us.  I took them out several times a day to feed them and let them fly around if they wanted to.  Finally, yesterday the temperature was warm enough for their release.

This guy was getting anxious to leave so I photographed him inside on some wildflowers that Nick was nice enough to pick for me.

Monarch butterfly #171

He was the first to take off yesterday morning.

The female pictured above was second.

This guy was a little more attached to me.

Monarch butterfly #172

Or maybe he was just a bit more timid.  I'm going with the first option.  :)

He was hesitant to leave.  He ended up hanging around until noon or so.  I had left to run some errands and came home to find him still here.  I kept coaxing him but he just wasn't going.  Finally I left him outside so I could go vote and when I returned he was gone.

Godspeed little ones.

Praying for strong, warm winds to help carry them to Mexico where they will spend the winter.

Hoping to raise their great grandbabies next summer!

Now the prep work for next year begins.  Planting LOTS of milkweed seeds.  Prepping flower beds for nectar flowers.  I want our garden to be swarming with butterflies next year.

I can't wait!

Supporting these fine folks ...
image-in-ing       Little by Little


Lisa1970 said...

Oh my goodness, thank you so much for sharing these magnificent monarchs. Just beautiful :)

Tamar SB said...

How awesome to read all about this process!

NC Sue said...

What a wonderful series!
To be honest, I'm a bit jealous that I missed seeing this for myself, but your photos were a wonderful way to follow vicariously. Thanks for sharing @ http://image-in-ing.blogspot.com/2014/11/oakdale-cemetery-wilmington-nc.html

Daughter of the High King of Kings said...

This is amazing! I love your photos and how colorful the are!

Kim Cunningham said...

I bet they loved it! What a great presentation.