Stop work Meetings

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  • #13021

    swivel
    Participant

    Hi, In the last two days it has become very noticable that many of the pillars are gathering at a central point on each plant and apparently doing nothing. I’ve noticed up to 18 in a grouping, some of them are touching each other whilst the majority are just sitting there, its sunny and warm and whilst these groups are in progress with whatever it is they are about there are plenty of others scattered about the plant, some just sunning themselves, others busy working.

    Of note is that the plants took a hammering in the storm of 4 nights ago, the wind was so strong that plants were being blown over and I had to do an emergency job of staking them which I did using electric fence standards. These standards are clearly very popular with the pillars for parking up on and frequently seem to be the central point for the stop work meetings.

    Anybody know what all of this signifies?

    As an aside there is lots of bumble bee and ordinary bee activity, its fasinating, I have seen a B B happily sharing a flower with a Monarh B Fly,then the Bee shifting position and crowding the butterfly who then got stuck into the Bee and chasing him off. The pillars, hundreds of them, are growing very rapidly and seem to be chrylasing sooner than earlier in the season. Still got heaps of foliage.—-cheers, Neil

Viewing 10 replies - 1 through 10 (of 10 total)
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  • #16926

    Swansong
    Participant

    Im gunna say WOW!!! as well. 1500 to 3000 pillars 😯 !!! that would be amazing to have that many. What a treat to watch that many!!! Mmmm, if you decide to tag, it looks like you will need up to 120 sheets, since March the 1st is just around the corner and all these will qualify : )))) .

    Cheers
    Swansong

    #16925

    Jacqui
    Moderator

    Wow! that’s quite a population. Don’t tell the wasps!!! I hope you’re going to join us tagging, Neil?

    Jacqui

    #16915

    swivel
    Participant

    Hi every one, this has to be quick, I’m not supposed to be here,—11-00AM just did a quick beat, more than 30 pillars on ground, last nights grounders that I marked are still on ground and look perfectly normal. Feed supply still easily more than 60%, average population per plant 30-50 catipillars multiply by 56 and we’ve got between 1500 and 3000 pillars, so maybe I’m over reacting here, maybe some guys just don’t like a crowd, lots of big guys starting to pupate and heaps of Monarchs flying about. I’m going to try and get back before dark for the next 3 nights just to have a jack, it is all so interesting, cheers, Neil

    #16914

    Jacqui
    Moderator

    Barb Case (USA) says:

    I have some photos on Flickr.com that actually show some of this odd behavior. Please note the comments below the pictures, as that is where I recorded many of my observations this last summer.

    Just follow this link to see the photo:
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/8812810@N02/773429215/

    To see the entire group of pictures click on my “Monarch Set” ENJOY!

    Barbara Case
    Waystation # 686 NW NY

    #16908

    Swansong
    Participant

    Any chance of a photo, guys?

    Would be interested to see this mass get together : )

    What mine typically do at night is park up on the tops of branches, (no difference whether they are inside or out) but quite often I will get 2 on opposite sides of a stem and then there will be others parked up under them….depending on how long the stem is.

    Now theres no doubt about it. Down in my region, ‘pillars are a lazy lot as far as getting up goes, they like to sleep in. 10am seems to be the choice time they “come alive” unless its really really warm all night like in the middle of summer.

    The only “exodus” we have witnessed here, is , one year there were 16 pillars all heading for the grapevine, which was across a narrow strip of lawn. Strange that they all seemed to head in more or less the same direction. It was between 10am and 11 am. which is typically one of the times they seem to head off to go into a hockey stick. Something else which makes me wonder whether they can partially see, (being light sensitive???) is, in amongst a whole lot of grape leaves I would quite often find three J’s all in a line on the same leaf and quite a wayz off from anywhere else.

    I do notice though that there are periods where they do really “wind down”, and that seems to be just before they moult. They are doing this now for 2 days, whereas in the height of the season its usually less than 1. I dont know what would be causing them all to do this at the same time… sounnds like we have a bit of a mystery on our hands.

    Swansong

    #16906

    Anonymous
    Inactive

    Hi,

    Our brood has also being up for some mass sleeping meetings, the biggest by far is last night, where they bunked up about sunset (8.30), still sleeping at 10, which at that point I decided to take the hint & head for bed too. They didn’t head for one point through, just hunkered down where they were. At dawn this morning (6.30) they where awake, but having a go-slow morning. Now the only change I made is giving them Moth Plant, since they ate all the Swan Plants.

    Now most of these caterpillars are 4th & 5th instars now, so should be pupating soon. As for the younger ones (1st, 2nd & 3rd instars’) they are also not being too active in the day, but maybe there’s something to the wasp theory Neil mentioned above. But I haven’t seen a return of a wasp since I dispatched it. But I was back at work today, so not out to see theses events.

    Now, my Swan Plants which have being dedicated to the young ones are going to be eaten soon, so how soon can a caterpillar be placed on Moth Plant? What’s your opinion on this move?

    Last brood had Tweedia, from an inch long, but I overwatered those plants & lost them which was a shame. In fact I had about 7-10 eggs laid on the Tweedia, so we think that they remembered the smell of the plant they where reared on & came back to it to lay eggs. Just another theory.

    BTW, I’m in Mt Eden, Akl.
    Take care, Robert.

    #16904

    Swansong
    Participant

    “I first noticed this last night just before dark by observing a line of pillers heading back up the trunk of one plant.”

    I wonder whether pillars can see? I’ve been meaning to ask this and keep forgetting. Maybe they can partially see? …otherwise how do they know to go back to the plant? and in a line…. :/ wow Swivel that is weird. I’m sure they dont go by just feelers.

    I have a hotwire stake stabilizing one swan plant which is behind my garden shed as the wind can do a circuit around there and flatten things on the odd occasion. I’ve had pillars parked up on this a lot.I wouldn’t think that would be anything to do with it. My garden area enclosure is enclosed by a thick hedge one end and a 6ft tin fence. Generally they will park up on anything away from the plant, Ive found, when they are about to moult. They love to go on the grape leaves too. The last moult can sometimes take 2 days, especially as the season gets on a bit.

    Good on you for destroying all the wasps. I haven’t seen any yet, but they will come for sure, when my grapes ripen, so I will need to swat up on what to do with these sods as I will be taking a very dim view to any that might attack a pillar :X.

    Please keep us posted as to what happens if you can as I’m interested in what pillars do. I know one thing for sure …they can be real naughty sometimes. Ha ha.

    Swansong

    #16902

    swivel
    Participant

    This business is becoming quite bizzare, more SW meetings today but not so well attended. What has become apparrent is that a number of mostly smaller pillars, 1 to 1.5 cm are leaving the plants and hiding in the grass, I first noticed this last night just before dark by observing a line of pillers heading back up the trunk of one plant. So just now, 4pm, I have slowly gone along the line of plants from the bottom side (they are on a bank that has grass and weeds that have been trimmed between pillar generations)now I noticed a number of these smallish pillars hiding in the grass up to half a metre from the nearest plant. Of course I starting hanging those bits of grass in the forks of milkweeds but then realised the folly of that and have left a number undisturbed. I shall go back half an hour before dark and see whats going on.

    Lets ponder this: 1/ During the recent storm i staked all of the plants with electric fence standards, they are steel with some plastic, the pillars frequently “park” on them, both the steel part and the plastic part and happily sun themselves.
    2/ Wasps, currently are the only preditor, I have observed about a dozen mutilations in the past two days,—-this is on 56 plants and hundreds of pillars. I carry a can of Raid flyspray with me each time I visit, most of my shots have been fired away from a plant and of those that were fired directly onto the plant I have only observed (I have been very critical of myself here) one pillar showing any ill effects,—he threw a tantrum and died, if any “solid fly spray” is present on the plant I wipe it off. I have destroyed every wasp seen to be in the vicinity. Its the old fast draw system and one gets very good at only firing “a drop”.
    3/ The only other thing that has been apparent in the past few days that is not usual is a neighbour feeding siliage to his cows,the smell, rather pleasant has persisted here for an hour or two.

    Now these pillars seem to be doing very well, there are big ones turning to chrysalis every day, so whats happening here? I’m wondering if this evacuation to the grass is a defence mechanism (against wasps) and that the pillars come back at night and eat like hell,—- because they are growing well.My problem of course is there are so many I cant tell Bob from John 5 minutes after observing them both. I doubt the fence standards are repulsing them for whatever reason. And the fly spray has contacted so few plants that it is unlikely to be a factor either.

    My second problem you can’t help me with, it is simply that I work 12 hour days at the Northland fieldays from this thursday thru saturday and will lose all influence over the Monarch patch for that period.

    FYI, I am just out of Dargaville in Northland.—cheers, Neil

    #16890

    Jacqui
    Moderator

    Fascinating stories you two! I have never witnessed this behaviour before, Neil. Please give us progress reports!

    Jacqui

    #16889

    Swansong
    Participant

    “Anybody know what all of this signifies?”

    Well for a start a good laugh :)))))))) (love your post title BTW) Hee hee aren’t the pillars characters. As long as they dont go on strike!!! :DDDDD

    Dont know where you are situated Swivel. If youre up north then it would stand to reason that things are still very much in swing in the winterless north as they say. Down in the Lower NI things are still very warm at times then we’ll have a few cooler nights. Feb is traditionally the hottest month here, but not this time. So things are slowing down here a bit, but theres still a reasonable amount of activity and eggs being laid etc.

    Gotta say your pillars are acting a bit weird. When ever we try and put them in the lower middle part of the plant to eat the older leaves, they promptly turn around and head straight for the tips (again). In other words they will do what they want to do and thankyou very much!!! :). However since yours “put” themselves there I wonder if it was the storm that drove them there for protection or something. Interesting. I know Ive observed generally over the years that you always get a couple that have got “battle scars”. Dont know whether its the wind that wounds them or what, but I decided to take note of a slightly munted one to see how he would go. It all worked out fine and he was a perfect butterly.

    “some of them are touching each other”
    …and then what? like, do yours fight when they touch each other? mine do …BIG TIME…babies against monsters, you name it. Usually they’ll swing the top 1/2 of their bodies as hard and as fast as they can against the apponent. I notice too that the fine silk that they sometimes spin as they go about their business, can tickle them, and I’ve seen them get very annoyed at this, as they work their ways around the plant. Its not beyond me to give the nice big fatties a gentle stroke with my finger, and they dont seem to mind! usually they keep right on eating! go figure.

    “who then got stuck into the Bee and chasing him off”
    ha ha, yeah, we saw one a wee while ago chasing a swallow hot on its tail, and swallow was chirping as it was flying! Dont know whether this is typical but I haven’t seen them so aggressive B4.

    Neat hearing your experience 🙂
    Cheers
    Swansong

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