Weak Butterflies

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  • #12775

    Anonymous
    Inactive

    Has anyone had any perfectly normal looking butterflies emerge that soon grow weak and die after a few days? I’ve had two in the last week. They look flawless, but have weak legs. One of them was tiny, so I wasn’t overly surprised, the second one is a beautiful big boy.

    No. 2 emerged at night (inside). I had to move him because his wings were touching the mesh of his emergence box and I thought they might dry bent. I left him overnight and the next morning hung him on a curtain in the sun. He seemed ok, but as the day wore on he got weaker and weaker until by evening his wings were totally flat, as if he couldn’t hold them up. I put him in a nice, warm room overnight and fed him in the morning but he looks pathetic. The first little one died 4 days after emergence. He was lively at first, and ate a few times, but soon grew too weak to stand.

    Could the caterpillars have had an illness? They have been living inside in (hopefully) a predator free environment. I’m worried about the 15 I still have to emerge :-(

Viewing 17 replies - 1 through 17 (of 17 total)
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  • #15795

    Anonymous
    Inactive

    Thanks Vicky my address is
    pamelamoresby@mac.com
    I certainly will look into buying Gorilla Ultra Bonder glue and will try it on a butterfly.
    Pam

    #15794

    Gilly
    Participant

    I suppose its okay to put my addy on here? :O
    I hope so 🙂
    paws.for.thought@xtra.co.nz

    #15793

    Anonymous
    Inactive

    Hi Gilly – is that the trust email address?

    #15792

    Gilly
    Participant

    Vicky, if you send me the photo, I will post up for you…

    #15791

    Anonymous
    Inactive

    Hi Pam – how do I get you a picture? Can I post one here or should I email you one? I talked to this really helpful guy at Mitre 10 and I explained what I wanted the glue for. After he picked himself up off the floor he recommended Gorilla Ultra Bonder because it dries really quickly but doesn’t have a strong solvent smell (I was worried about knocking Charlie out with the fumes). Plus it comes in a neat little bottle like nail varnish, with a wee brush to apply it with. The brush is great – glue goes where you want it and you don’t end up with any excess. Hugh (husband) brushed some onto the replacement wing then, while I held Charlie’s hind wing out of the way, he stuck it on. Quick dust with powder and then we did the hind wing. I reckon he could’ve flown off there and then if he wasn’t so chilly! He’s since broken the tip off his bionic wing (the bionic bit was probably already a couple of weeks old) but the repair has remained in perfect condition. Hugh has great big male fingers, and he managed to get the wing lined up perfectly without getting any on himself!

    #15790

    Anonymous
    Inactive

    Hi Vicky! I’d like to see a picture of your “bionic butterfly” I would like to know which brand of glue you used for your butterfly. I can manage the fridge and the cutting part. Im not too happy with my handling of superglue! Ended up by sticking my own fingers together.

    #15787

    Anonymous
    Inactive

    Thanks everyone – I feel a bit better! My success rate has been pretty high and I know it would’ve been a lot less without intervention. I still have some caterpillars munching away in my study, a bunch of chyrsalides to emerge (hopefully healthily) and two damaged monarchs who have the run of the house. One of them is Charlie – my husband calls him our “bionic butterfly”. He was our first wing transplant patient. He can fly, but didn’t seem to have the confidence to leave the backyard and now only goes outside on really nice days. I think having wings that he can move and fold together (just like a proper butterfly!) has improved his life. He’s almost 4 weeks old – will miss him when he goes.

    #15785

    Gilly
    Participant

    Sorry Jacqui… remind me never to quote figures 🙂 I always get them wrong! 🙂

    #15781

    Jacqui
    Moderator

    Actually, the statistics I read were “In Nature only 3 out of 100 caterpillars become Adults . We are able to achieve a 95% success rate at our location.” (www.livemonarch.com). I brought 46 pupae inside yesterday, I hang them indoors, and I think my success rate would be about 80%.

    When I first went farming and my first lamb died I was very upset but a “real” farmer said to me “when you have livestock, you’ll have deadstock” so I try to keep that in mind. I’m sure you’re doing a lot better than a 3% success rate — so you’re helping the Monarchs.

    I have tried to find out if we’ve got OE (a disease which is the biggest fear of butterfly farmers in the US/Canada) in NZ but don’t think we have – or even if we have, it’s certainly not rife. We’re pretty lucky in NZ, it seems the conditions are just about perfect.

    I had a female laying eggs in my garden today, so I’m pretty sure that we’ll have them breeding all year here in Russell. There are certainly a lot dancing around my bottlebrush and blackeyed susan flowers; so I guess some of them are in diapause and not going to breed until the spring.

    I better get going and plant more milkweed!

    Good on you for what you’re doing!

    Jacqui

    #15779

    Gilly
    Participant

    Thanks Vicky…interesting. Jacqui gave statistics of 1% surviving in nature only… we all don’t do too badly with our monarch releases…. we lose a few I know…. but we do pretty well@! I’ve got a few chrysaali that are milky… a couple of monarchs with sore legs and deformed wings… but I have let HEAPS go….

    #15778

    Anonymous
    Inactive

    I’ve had the same problems with butterflies with weak legs and I try to feed them. One of mine recently has a distorted wing that is straight but really crooked and and leg that does not work at all – it can’t fly so I’ve kept it. If the legs are weak, the butterflies don’t survive long. that’s what I’ve seen so far, hopefully we can find a cure for it.
    Pam

    #15774

    Anonymous
    Inactive

    Hi Gilly – finally found the website again. It was forum, so I had to search to find the one I was looking for:

    http://www.monarchwatch.org/forums/viewtopic.php?t=256&highlight=proboscis

    The person who posted the topic said her affected butterflies were males as well, but mine didn’t have swollen abdomens like hers.

    #15772

    Gilly
    Participant

    Strange… can you post up the website you found re proboscis problems, please Vicky?

    #15768

    Anonymous
    Inactive

    Hi Gilly
    Both my weak ones (one large, one tiny) could feed well for 3 days, but on the 4th they died. Found a website that mentioned proboscis problems as being a sign of a parasite infection. The wee one took over a day to assemble his. 4 others had proboscis trouble as well but they didn’t weaken and flew away. All but one of the odd ones have been boys. The latest butterflies to emerge seem very healthy. I’m in ChCh and they weather is getting colder, so I have to keep them sometimes for 5 days until it is warm enough to let them go. By then they’re well fed, strong, and eager to get out and about. Tis a harder life in the S.I. this time of year so they need to be healthy!

    #15767

    Gilly
    Participant

    Hii Vicky,
    Sometimes when I have released the butterflies, later in the day I will find a weak one, low down and I have found, mostly, that their proboscus has got stuck and it hasn’t been able to feed. I then unfurl the proboscus and put the weak one on sugar/water mixture. I am also keeping my butterflies in overnight and releasing them on second day since it is cooler. I try to feed them before I let them go. I find they are stronger on second day.

    #15764

    Anonymous
    Inactive

    Hi Jacqui

    I’m in Christchurch. Some of the last caterpillars came from a friend’s garden so maybe they were infected. I read yesterday where a particular parasite can cause problems, but I couldn’t find any telltale signs on my deceased buterflies despite using a magnifying glass.

    The last 3 to emerge have taken a day to put together their proboscis (apparently this can be a symptom too), but seem otherwise healthy. I released 4 yesterday who flew away happily. Its a hard winter for them down here so it helps if they’re healthy to start with! Not to mention I don’t want them to spread any infection to other wild butterflies.

    My other sick boy only lived 4 days as well. The 4 I have had problems with have all been boys – strange. Fingers crossed for the rest of them ….

    #15759

    Jacqui
    Moderator

    Hi Vicky

    I have never heard of this! It seems strange – but do let us know if you have continued problems. What part of NZ are you in?

    Hope you don’t have any more problems like that!

    Jacqui

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