New attempt for Monarch way station in Dana Point, CA

Dana Point, CA(Zone 10b)

Last summer a friend of mine started her MW/Monarch venture in San Clemente. Before our backyard was 'under construction' late fall, I had spotted several monarchs flittering around. The yard is done *pool remodel* and I'm using one of my roof decks as a Monarch Nursery. My friend brought over on of her caterpillars a week ago - and he munched down a few leaves. I noticed that he would cruise off the pot down onto the carpet to poop, then come back up to eat. A caterpillar that was potty trained! I guess that is a trait these caterpillars have anyway. Two days ago it retreated to the rim of two pots and just hid, droppings from it's hiding place. The next day, it hung in J. Yesterday, I checked up on it at 4pm - Still in a J. Checked on it again at 7pm - chrysalis! The last pic is poop and skin garbage.

On another note; I took one of my MW plants *potted* down to the backyard a few days ago, now that the pool is done and have some landscaping going *including rare palms and fruiting bananas* wildlife is returning. A hummer here and there, bees, and a Morning Cloak comes by every day. But haven't seen any Monarchs yet. Although my husband claims he spotted a couple flittering through a week ago. BUT, I think I spotted eggs laid on the MW by the pool. Need to verify that.

Cheers from Dana Point, CA - Rey

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Atlanta, GA(Zone 8a)

I hope you get to see the butterfly emerge from the chrysalis - what fun.

Dana Point, CA(Zone 10b)

I hope it's healthy - my concern is that it might not be. The chrysalis just doesn't seem vibrant enough. My other challenge is growing a healthy milkweed - I expect that I will be experimenting with soil concoctions over the next few months. If anyone has a recipe that they like - please share! I figure I have to plant a bunch from seed in pots now, to have healthy plants 1 - 2 years from now. I'm in a 'urban' like setting - so I'm very limited with ground space, but I have a fabulous microclimate in certain spots around the property. I'm also growing rare palms and fruiting Ice Cream Bananas - all of which are taking very well.

Today I finished building a little 'monarch mansion' - part of my experimentation of raising them.

I can verify that I have approximately 10+ eggs on a plant that was placed near the pool around Memorial Day. It's now up in the mansion, and a new plant is down by the pool.

I'm considering planting milkweed in the ground out in front under a Kentia Palm.
It will get full sun from afternoon to sunset - another experiment.

*sigh* - what did I get myself into?? :)

Cheers!
-Rey

Dana Point, CA(Zone 10b)

I have 7 caterpillars that all appear healthy - two of them are chrysalis now, all from the plant I had placed by the pool. I was at the right place at the right time when one of them was changing. The other cats are still working on the plants.

Everyday I see a Monarch or two flutter through the yard at one time or another. I have 4 new cats *about a week old now* on a plant down by the pool -( last pic next to the green chair.)

The previous chrysalis did not make it. The friend that brought it over also reported that 7 of her chrysalis did not make it. They were all brown and gushy. OE? or something else? I removed the chrysalis once I determined it was not healthy, put it in a zip lock back and disposed of it.

And of course, I can report that that orange milkweed aphid is a nuisance and I have to continue to keep them at bay everyday on each plant. I'm currently using the 'squish' method.

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Homeworth, OH(Zone 5b)

If it was OE you should sterilize all of your equipment that it touched, and any milkweed plant it was on. Unfortunately it is easy to spread once started, and hard to get rid of. You can go to monarchwatch, and read the section about parasites. We once had to destroy hundreds of cats because we took in some from an acquaintance. I actually wound up starting a bonfire and burned all my cages, equipment, and cats before I was able to contain the infestation. We now only raise small numbers in any given container and check each adult before releasing.

Homeworth, OH(Zone 5b)

http://monarchwatch.org/biology/control.htm

Here is the info from monarch watch if you're interested

Menifee, CA(Zone 9a)

Mantarey, what kind of milkweed are you using for a host plant? I know that there are different kinds that bloom at different times. I'm hoping to attract monarchs to my garden.
How neat that you have eggs, and chrysalis too.
Please keep posting to let us know how you are doing.
Nice cat cage.
Walk in Beauty~
SingingWolf

Dana Point, CA(Zone 10b)

Hello butterfly friends,

I do know about Monarchwatch and had familiarized myself with everything before I started this whole project. The one chrysalis that failed was on one plant and pot which I did remove from the cage before I moved the next group in from the pool area. I only had the cat for a day and a half before he did his transformation - which at the time I thought it to be too early. As a cat he just seemed to small. Anyway . . . onward.

I have a total of 7 chrysalis in the cage, and currently one cat. I have 3 chrysalis down by the pool hanging on palm fronds and a ti plant. 3 more little cats are finishing off the milkweed by the pool. I've was lucky to see two cats turn to chrysalis with my own eyes. wow. weird stuff. Two days ago I watched a cat make his attachment . .and timed his "J" position. So 24 hours later I was able to be around for the transformation.

All the chrysalis' appear to be in good health . . vibrant jade like shell with shiny gold oxygen holes. I can even see the black and orange markings beginning to show through on a few of them. I expect someone to eclose starting Thursday or Friday and then through the weekend they should all be out. the ones down by the pool are 10 days out.

Everyday a monarch or two come by the yard, but I can tell they are frustrated as the milkweed has already been spoken for - they're close to being all leafless branches.

Today I went to Home Depot over in Aliso Viejo - they just got a shipment of 'Tropical' milkweed in - huge ones. I didn't buy any . . . but a few monarchs were all over them laying eggs. I noticed a couple of bugs on them also - so hopefully there not treated with pesticide. I'd think they'd know better - that is the guy who runs the nursery. I didn't buy any - I want to check with the buyer there and make sure they're clear of pesticide.

Many of the local nurseries are getting fresh plants in - "Tropical" variety. I did buy two physocarpa milkweed which I plan to isolate for awhile , perhaps plant them in the front yard and keep them netted until later this summer. Monarchs are flying all over the place in Orange County right now - every where I go I see one. Either that, or they keep following me around -;)

BTW . .I name chrysalis' - based on where they plant themselves, or what I notice about them right before. So . .Red, decided to attach to a ti plant. The second one . .Ele . .is on my ptycosperma Elegans palm. The two in the cage are Fat Albert and Chunk - they were huge cats - still the biggest I've ever seen to this day.

On another note - I released lady bugs the other evening in the cage and in the yard. They definitely help.

ok . . that's it - sorry so long.

Happy 4th of July - I'll check in after a few eclose.

Cheers

-Rey

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Menifee, CA(Zone 9a)

Aww, how sweet. :-)

I loved seeing the photos of Red, Fat Albert and Chunk. I couldn't see Ele, though. :-(

They really are a beautiful shade of Jade green.

Anyway, I just wanted you to know I'm finding your experiences educational, useful and sometimes a bit humorous.

I really need to get to work on a cat cage.

WIB~
SW

Dana Point, CA(Zone 10b)

Hello from Dana Point . . .

Fat Albert on the left - fresh out of his case - he opened up on 4th of July morning, along with two others. I released the three of them the next day. Yesterday three more opened in the morning - I let them go a few hours later. One more chrysalis left in the cage and I expect it to open day after tomorrow. After that, I've only got one cat in the cage left - he's still a few days away from 'hanging' himself. And then there's four chrysalis hangin' around in the palm fronds down by the pool.

I am curious about a bright yellow butterfly that comes around now . . .??? what is it?

-Rey

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Menifee, CA(Zone 9a)

So cool to watch them hatch, and then to free them. I'll bet it really made the 4th of July a date to remember. :-)
Good job! I can't wait for the Monarchs to find me.
The yellow butterfly is probably a sulphur butterfly. They like feeding on Thunbergia. I am still looking for host plants for them.
WIB~
SW

Dana Point, CA(Zone 10b)

Cassia is supposedly another host plant for Sulfer Butterflies . . .I'm seeing more of them around a local nursery nearby a mobile home park in San Juan Creek area - and I did spot some Cassia plants around there.

Four more chrysalis to open - most likely this weekend. two cats in the cage still growing. After that, the milkweed needs to recover. I notice that the milkweed aphids attack the plants int he cage - but not down by the pool. hmmmm. I'll get another dose of ladybugs this weekend for the cage. I'm getting tired of squishing them with my fingers. :/

And why are the milkweed at Home Depot free of aphids . .or whatever that silly little orange bug is? I keep asking if the plants are pesticide free, but know one seems to know the answer there.

Menifee, CA(Zone 9a)

I do not know where the aphids come from. I spray them off with water, and for the persistent ones I gently rub 'em off.
I don't normally go to Home Depot for plants. Lowe's is closer, and I prefer going to Louie's nursery which is closer still.
The ones I got on my MW last year, appeared out of no where. Never saw orange aphids before. If you can't take the plant out to spray it, Ladybugs are a good friend to have. :-)
Good to know about the Cassia. I'll be on the look out for it.
WIB~
SW

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