Monarchs in My Garden: Part 2

The female monarch has thick black veins on the forewings and hindwings

My previous post mentioned one female monarch came back from the south earlier than I expected. She laid many eggs on my milkweed. There were three adult monarchs that emerged from the chrysalises before our Memorial Day weekend trip to see our grandkids in Oregon.

The male monarch has two thick dots on the hindwings

Before going on the trip, I asked my neighbor to babysit the caterpillars, but she didn’t feel comfortable doing it. I bought two additional butterfly cages with a total of four, and put the milkweed with the most eggs in the cages, then left them alone. One cage had five chrysalises. I left the cage door open in case the adult monarchs emerge while we were gone.

A mess is put at the top of the milkweed pot level so that the toddler caterpillars won’t fall to the bottom of the cage.

When we came back from the trip, two of the chrysalises had only empty shells. I was glad the cage door was open, so the butterflies flew away. There were still three monarchs that emerged after we returned home.

They crawled around the cage until they straightened the wrinkled wings to be strong enough to fly

The other three cages had tons of caterpillars. Some grew bigger in our absence. Some eggs were hatched.

I only had enough milkweed to feed the caterpillars I had so far. My visit to the nursery was disappointing because the plant was dry and almost dead but cost the same. Currently, there are about 20 chrysalises in four cages. When all the adult butterflies emerge, I’ll pack up the cages.

These are 7 of the 20 chrysalises

My home-grown milkweed is doing well. Hopefully, I won’t need to purchase commercial ones next year.

I took a photo of them before they flew away

My monarch raising season is almost over this year. I made a few recordings of the different stages. I want to show you two of them. If you don’t want to spend 14 minutes watching them, you could fast forward.

Incredible creature
Amazing transformation

We all have our beautiful butterflies within us, you and me!

Have a Wonderful Weekend!

Family Time

Fanno Creek Trail, Beaverton, Oregon

We canceled the Mother’s Day trip to see my daughter’s family because the kids caught some non-Covid virus from daycare. The entire family was not feeling well.

 I rescheduled our trip for Memorial Day weekend. It is also my daughter’s and her hubby’s anniversary. Whenever we visit them, I offer to watch the kids so they can go on dates. Since this last weekend was their anniversary, they went on a two-day trip to the beach.

Mercy is a master planner. She made a comprehensive list of suggestions from breakfast to bedtime for us to go by. Even though I’ve been watching the kids for four and a half years, it helps to have her suggestions to fall back on.

Autumn has no problem with mommy and daddy going on dates or a short getaway. Nora is attached to Mercy. She was not happy to see mommy walking out of the door after breakfast on Saturday. Fortunately, I had a special treat for the girls to distract them, at least to calm down Nora.

It turned out that both Saturday and Sunday went smoothly. The girls painted the garden stones, read, and played together, but did something separately with grandpa and grandma. Grandpa is Nora’s favorite. Grandma is Autumn’s favorite. It is just perfect. It was easier for us to handle while they got our individual attention.

Autumn painted the butterfly and the sun, and Nora painted the ladybug

It was raining most of the day on Saturday and Sunday. Whenever the sun peeked out a little, we headed out to the school playground right away. One neighbor has some goats. Nora loves to feed the goats. The kids rode their bikes to the playground on Saturday and just walked there on Sunday.

There was something I tried to do this time around. I asked Lynton to read bedtime stories to Nora and put her to bed. Amazingly, it turned out to be a success. Yay!

It worked out perfectly because Autumn wanted me to read her many books. I could just relax to spend time with Autumn without worrying about Nora.

During the two-day trip, Mercy and Will went wine tasting, hiking, and strolling on the beach. They came home after a late-night movie on Sunday. I was happy that they had a wonderful time.

Monday was the Memorial Day holiday. We went on a family walk together. The girls rode their bikes, and Will rode his skateboard to keep up with the kids.

Family Walk on Fanno Creek Trail

By the way, Lynton and I did the cooking for all the meals from Thursday to Tuesday. We tried to cook different main dishes, such as salmon, veggie & sausage casserole, pizza, and tofu. Lynton cooked mashed potatoes a couple of evenings. I cooked the same mixed vegetables. It turned out perfectly because we could eat what we normally eat at home. Mercy and Will loved to have some days off without doing cooking.

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Monarchs in My Garden

My first Monarch 2022

The year 2021 was my first year raising monarch butterflies. In fact, I started planting seeds in 2020. Milkweed dies in the winter and comes back in spring. When the spring of 2021 rolled around, some milkweed came back. I found many caterpillars on the plants. Several caterpillars died because I left them on the plants and didn’t know what happened to them. I dug up some milkweed and put them in a-gallon pots. I went through many ways to secure them. Eventually, I bought two cages and raised 12 butterflies.

I have some milkweed from last year that died in winter and just came back in the early spring this year. One female monarch came back from the south earlier than I expected. When I watered the Milkweed, I found five caterpillars within a few days.

The first caterpillar I found

I wouldn’t have enough plants to feed them. It takes about one 1-gallon plant to feed two caterpillars. I bought four 1-gallon plants at Armstrong Nursery. Even though I only have five caterpillars, and I may have more later in the summer, the Milkweed will be gone in a few weeks.

I set up the two cages. Young caterpillars are escapers. They run away from the plant constantly. I didn’t want to keep watching to rescue them. To keep them from crawling out to fall to the bottom of the pot, I made a net with mash to pin it from the edge of the pot to the four walls of the cage. It was easier for me to see the caterpillars when they ran away from the plant. I could pick them up and put them back on the plant.

The caterpillars cling to the milkweed during the last week of the growing state when they are getting big and hungry. They’d keep eating until time to pupate. They crawl up to the top of the cage and find a secure spot to spin the silk mat from which they hang upside down by their last pair of prolegs.

Using my experience last year, I clipped some rubber coating wires to make an arc across the top of the cage and stick one piece of wire from the pot to the top of the cage. Some caterpillars crawled up from the wire in the middle and some crawled up from the side of the cage.

It takes about two weeks for the adult butterfly to emerge. Right before emerging, the black and orange colors are clear in the pupa. After the adult butterfly emerges, it hangs on the shell until the wings are strong enough to fly.

Monarchs do not mate until they are three to eight days old. Females lay eggs immediately after their first mating. Adults in summer generations live from two to five weeks.

Each year, the last generation of monarchs has an additional job. They migrate to overwintering grounds, either in central Mexico for eastern monarchs or in California for western monarchs. Here they spend the winter clustered in trees until weather and temperature conditions allow them to return to their breeding grounds. These adults can live up to nine months.

Here are the videos of my first Monarch in 2022.

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Enjoy!

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Lens-Artists Challenge #197 – The Rule of Thirds

This week, the theme from Tina Schell, for the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge is focused on one of the most well-known and widely used rules of photography, the Rule of Thirds. She said, “For those who would like to study the concept further, there are many online descriptions and examples. Adobe offers an excellent summary here. Basically, the rule is a compositional guideline that encourages placement of your primary subject on at least part of three equal rows and three equal columns as illustrated below.”

The Adobe article entitled: How to use, and break, the rule of thirds

Rule of Thirds Grid

The idea is to place your subject on one (or more) of the grid lines, or even better on the dots, theoretically making the image more pleasing to the eye.

I’ve been taking photos since I was a teenager when there were only Black & White photos. As indicated in the Adobe article, “The more you do it, the more it gets ingrained into your head.” I apply the Rule of Thirds most of the time in my photo compositions.

I learned drawing and painting at a young age, the Rule of Thirds also applies to the composition of drawing, painting, and some other forms of art. I’ll post my photos and two of my paintings in this post.

There are many kinds of butterflies in my garden, Swallowtail, Monarch, Mourning Cloak, and Cabbage butterflies. A Monarch came back from the south early this year and is busy laying eggs. I collected 10 eggs so far. Three are in the chrysalis form, two are growing strong, and five are 1/8″ babies. I’ll post some Monarch photos later. I saw a Nymphalis antiopa, known as Mourning Cloak, a few days ago but didn’t take good photos. I took the following one a while ago.

There are many turtles in the lake within walking distance from home. This colorful turtle was sunbathing when I walked around the lake one day. The entire colorful body is attractive. The reflection of the sunlight made part of his body draw more attention.

I took the following photo in Maui, Hawaii. The crashing waves evoke my imagination. I strive to take photos with droplets dancing in the air as the waves splash the rocks.

The following are my two paintings. Naturally, the tree is the focus of the first painting and the butterfly is in the second painting.

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Lens-Artists Challenge #197 – The Rule of Thirds

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