Absinthe

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  • in reply to: Wing repair *HELP* #53256

    Absinthe
    Participant

    Hi – Caryl’s comment was helpful to me too; I had 10 butterflies that eclosed last Friday/weekend and have been wondering how long they will be ok without food. There has been so much rain here in Wellington they don’t get a chance to fly off and the forecast for next several days is not promising either. I haven’t worried about them for up to 5 days or so in the past. I did try offering sugar water but they don’t seem interested.

    I have also had a number of my chrysalides unable to eclose successfully. The butterflies seem to get stuck, are too weak to escape the chrysalis and even those I helped weren’t able to expand their wings successfully. I think they had been stuck too long. Disappointing amount of use of the freezer for euthanasing. I guess it is the time of year and they are diseased perhaps. Some chrysalides just go dark and muddy looking and are obviously dead. I find it frustrating that I always seem to end up with a significant crop of chrysalides (20 – 30) very late in the season and their development is so slow once the weather cools so they are emerging April/May and sometimes later. And then the conditions really seem too cold for them.

    in reply to: Swan plant rescue #52409

    Absinthe
    Participant

    I would also like to say thanks to Bruce and Caryl for arranging the swan plants delivery to Wellington this week. It was great to get some good-sized plants and very good price. I hope to keep some of mine aside under netting to get bigger for next season.

    in reply to: Toothless caterpillar #52238

    Absinthe
    Participant

    Hi ggh – I’m not sure if this could be the issue, but could be a possibility: in past seasons I have had a couple of smaller instar caterpillars that failed to shed their “head capsule” properly after moulting. This effectively blocked their ability to eat. Eventually they will die if they are unable to free themselves from the head capsule. (I found out about this when researching online). You may be able to observe it looking like a darker, harder shell still partially on the head, but usually loose. Sometimes I was able to (extremely) carefully lift off the loose capsule with a pin or a tiny artists brush, enabling the caterpillar to feed. Of course it is preferable not to handle the caterpillars unless absolutely necessary.

    These days however I take a less interventionist approach and am more relaxed about it. It is easy to get caught up in these interesting creatures – thinking of them as individuals and trying to save every one. However, as Jacqui has pointed out, not every egg/caterpillar is supposed to become a butterfly – it’s part of nature. Some will have defects or be diseased and be unable to survive the process. The butterflies are so beautiful though – of course we want them to make it!

    in reply to: Too many caterpillars/not enough swan plant #51890

    Absinthe
    Participant

    Hi – I am in Wellington and looking for more swan plants to feed the caterpillars which have emerged while I was away on holiday. I’ve usually purchased plants from Twiglands in previous seasons but they no longer have any. Does anyone know where I can buy decent sized swan plants in Wellington? Thanks. Contact: 027 249 4242

    in reply to: Rescuing pupae #50647

    Absinthe
    Participant

    Hi – not sure where you are, but I’m in Wellington and find my chrysalides take ages (months) to mature in the cool weather. I had some outside that pupated under a veranda roof, from beams and on the house wall. I do bring them inside, particularly if they’re starting to darken. Partly also because I think any emerging butterflies may have a tough time in the wind and cold and there’s a risk of them falling.

    To remove the chrysalis, I use a pair of pointed-end tweezers, and VERY CAREFULLY use those to pull gently from above the cremaster (the black stick that the chrysalis hangs from). Usually if you pull slowly and steadily, the silk will pull away from the structure it’s attached to. (Take care as you could snap the cremaster if you squeeze too hard with tweezers on it.)
    (When I’m doing this, I also hold a container under the chrysalis, to catch it in case it drops).

    If the chrysalis comes away with silk attached, bunch up the silk a bit, then I tie a piece of normal sewing cotton thread around the cremaster (with 2 or 3 knots) and then tie it on to something else. You can also do this if there isn’t much silk, as long as the hook at the top of the cremaster is intact. It’s a bit fiddly to do, but seems to work ok. I’ve also read of people using glue guns to attach cremasters to something else with a blob of glue, but you need to be careful not to get any glue on the chrysalis itself.

    Others on here with more experience may have different advice or options.

    in reply to: Chrysalis not closed properly #50642

    Absinthe
    Participant

    Hi Fiona

    Thank you for your reply and words of encouragement. There is certainly a lot to learn with raising monarchs. They’re so interesting. I have still seen the occasional monarchs around our garden on a fine day when I’ve been home. I’m in Ngaio.

    I did read about your sad experience with the toxic plants and can’t imagine how awful that must have been for you. So sorry that happened to you. There are many risks in this activity it seems. However you have also released a large number of butterflies – wow, a great contribution.

    A bit of better news I can share – re the butterfly I mentioned, with quite a large split still in its proboscis. A big, otherwise beautiful-looking male. I was sadly thinking I’d have to euthanase it, as it is getting weak and it didn’t seem interested in feeding. However tonight when I got home, I decided to have a go at hand feeding it with honey water on a piece of paper towel, after reading on here that sometimes trying to get them to feed can help them to zip the proboscis together. It sat on my hand and did appear to be attempting feeding, in spite of the split. Then, after a while, it no longer had the split! Amazing! I am really amazed that this happened. This butterfly is 7 days old. It still may not make it, but I feel it at least has a chance now.
    Hoping for a reasonably fine and calm day in the next few days so I can release the current seven butterflies I have.

    Diana

    in reply to: Chrysalis not closed properly #50633

    Absinthe
    Participant

    Hello – I have just joined the forum although have found this site an extremely useful resource since I started raising a small number of monarchs last season (about 20 butterflies). Still have about 10 chrysalides yet to eclose this year – again I seem to have a lot of butterflies emerging very late in the season, which is a concern as the weather here in Wellington is not great in terms of suitable days to release butterflies and temperatures are often cool. Sadly quite a few butterflies eclosing lately seem weak, and some have fallen after emerging, and crinkled up their not-yet-dry wings. If I haven’t been home, I haven’t been able to intervene and possibly save them. I do know this is just the way things are with nature, but it is still a shame. Some seem ok but are smaller than usual. Most I find need at least a day or so kept inside before they’re ready to fly off, on a fine day.

    I have also had a few chrysalides with the flaw that Moni posted about here. A wedge-shaped gap in the front of the chrysalis, level with the bottom of the wings. I took the “wait and see” approach. One of these eclosed with an apparently normal butterfly with just a small ripple at the bottom of one wing; another butterfly couldn’t free itself from the chrysalis and was very wet looking and clearly not normal (euthanased). One chrysalis seemed to stretch quite soon after forming and became partially hollowed out over a period of time – you could see inside it, but it remained green. I euthanased that one eventually as I couldn’t imagine anything close to a normal butterfly resulting from it, and was worried it might still be alive. All of these chrysalides were originally outside, and I did see tiny spiders on the plants or nearby. I wonder whether the spiders could have eaten part of the chrysalis when freshly pupated? Or perhaps some chemical was involved as per Edith’s comment, that I wasn’t aware of. Interested whether anyone else has had recent experience with this issue.

    I also have 2 butterflies currently with split proboscis. One quite a lot – nearly 1 cm, and another a couple of mm at the tip. From what I have read, it seems sadly these are doomed as they won’t be able to feed?

    Sorry, this post is rather long!

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