Monarchs of September

Back in August it seemed like we were seeing more Monarch butterflies that at any time during the summer. They seemed to be everywhere. And they were laying eggs.

Toward the end of the month, there were large caterpillars and smaller ones too.


Then – I only found large caterpillars

And the chrysalises. Some still looked like jade pendants and others were already beginning to become clear – the monarchy colors coming through.

The elementary school that I delivered chrysalises and caterpillars too had their first butterfly emerge last Tuesday – 11 to 12 days after the chrysalis was made. When they released it, the butterfly flew away to the south! Hopefully it is not waylaid along its journey by Hurricane Florence.

Just this week I have had two butterflies emerge and fly way. They were both on the same window frame – opposite corners. On Wednesday morning – the first one emerged and stayed near the empty chrysalis until it flew away.

The second one emerged on Thursday morning. It crawled up onto face of the lintel. It took several hours for it to fly away – perhaps because it was a cloudy day and the humidity was about 90%. It is clearly a male based on the dark nodes on the lower part of the wings.

With all the diseases monarchs have these days – there have been disappointments too…at both the caterpillar stage and the butterfly. I’ve observed deformed butterflies probably caused by the parisite  Ophryocystis Elektroscirrha (OE) – and lethargic, shriveled caterpillars probably from Pseudomonas bacteria (aptly named ‘Black Death’)…so having an apparently healthy butterfly emerge is something I need to keep trying to help the Monarch butterflies! It’s a lot harder to raise healthy Monarchs now than it was back in the 1990s.