December 2010 Monarch Butterfly Garden Update

I don’t have any pictures to share tonight but I thought I’d provide an update on our Butterfly Garden, particularly with the Monarchs.

Strangely enough, we have quite a few Monarch Butterflies right now.  We’ve been releasing 1-2 Monarchs per day for the last couple of weeks.  In a way, this makes some sense.  In October and November, the Monarchs we saw were likely migrating to Mexico and had not yet mated.  The Monarch Butterflies we are seeing right now have definitely mated, and are laying lots of eggs.  As we find the Caterpillars, we bring them inside and give them fresh Milkweed.  Could these just be local Monarchs that spend much of their time in the warmer climates?  They definitely don’t appear to be as worn as the October/November Monarchs were.  Another little interesting tidbit.  The majority of the Monarchs that we have been releasing have been female.  I’d say the ratio is like 3:1.

Right now we have 2 female Monarchs that we should be able to release tomorrow, and there’s a good chance another 2-3 will become Butterflies by morning.

We also have several Gulf Fritillary Caterpillars, Chrysalises, and Butterflies.  We haven’t been bringing in as many Caterpillars from this species inside as they tend to hide a bit better than the Monarchs (at least in our yard).

We’ve had a few days of below freezing temperatures, but not for very long (typical of Houston).  We have been covering much of our outdoor Milkweed with a clear shower curtain (Leecy’s idea) and that appears to give the Milkweed sufficient light, protects them from frost, and also serves as a nice bit of insulation.

Fortunately for the Butterflies, we still have quite a few Nectar plants (Lantana, Milkweed, Penta, Mexican Flame Vine) that have been providing the necessary food that these insects require.

This upcoming week is also Christmas!  Leecy says she doesn’t want anything for Christmas and wants to do something for a needy family so we’re going shopping tomorrow to buy some presents for whomever we decide to give them to.  There is a family we are thinking about that have 3 kids, so we talked about buying 3 bikes for them.  My idea is just do drop the bikes off during Christmas Eve night and let them think it’s from Santa.  I’d prefer they not know they were from Leecy and I.

Also this upcoming week I’ll be receiving my rented Canon 300mm f2.8 lens.  I’m really looking forward to shooting with this lens.  If I like it, and I don’t end up taking that trip to Mexico, I’ll probably end up buying one early next year.

That’s about it on this end.  I’m going to try and take some pictures of the Monarch Butterflies that we’ll release tomorrow so check back if you’re interested in seeing the pictures.

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