Odd mass monarch butterfly behavior: check your local pop!

Discussion in 'Bad Dog Cafe' started by telemnemonics, Jul 31, 2019.

  1. Mad Kiwi

    Mad Kiwi Friend of Leo's

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    Here in New Zealand they devour the plants and over lay eggs on them massively, always have in my nearly 50 years of watching them. Stripped plants is the norm here. In fact you almost cant grow enough plants.

    Not sure if ours are the same as what you call Milkweed but ours are called Swan Plants. I took a cool photo of one a few years back, I'll have to dig that up and addd to the thread over the weekend.

    One of my customers is apparently very well known for "breeeding" them and on a site visit there I was stunned to be sourrounded by hundreds (or more) of them and they have the biggest swan plants I have ever seen, as big as a small car.

    The only place I have ever seen plants not stripped in season.
     
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  2. KevinB

    KevinB Doctor of Teleocity

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    I've seen quite a few Monarchs here in South Carolina this summer.

    And it still fascinates me that they produce four broods per year, with each brood laying the eggs that will produce the next one. But, the adult butterflies of the first three broods only live from 3 to 6 weeks. The adults from the last brood are the only ones that migrate and they live 6 to 8 months, returning from migration to start off the cycle the next year.

    That doesn't seem very efficient to me, but it obviously works!
     
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  3. thegeezer

    thegeezer Tele-Afflicted

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    It’s related to the USDA CRP (conservation reserve program) which is designed to provide alternate uses for certain marginal or erodible soils. The compensation is significant enough to encourage participation on certain types of land.
     
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  4. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    I didn't know a number of broods or life span but I remember having learned that the butterfly hatched in Maine doesn't fly all the way to Mexico, then all the way back to Maine again.
    Not sure how accurate this is but it explains the efficiency thing a little better.

    One feature of nature is that the growing season in the Southern part of the migration starts earlier, when the monarchs are in that area and can lay eggs on those new milkweeds. At that time up North it's too cold for them to even fly and there are no grown milkweeds to lay eggs on, or flowers to feed on.
    So I presume that as the head North in Spring, they choose to raise their family in the first town that has the resources they need.
    Then their kids head North again and do the same 500- 1000 miles further, etc.
    I don't know if they breed again going South, since milkweeds would not be in season any more, but maybe in some Southern areas they grown a second batch of plants later in the season from the seeds dropped by the first milkweed cycle?

    A reason their having multiple generations on one migration makes sense to me is that the little buggers just plain wear out!
    An older monarch commonly has wings with all the blush worn off, tattered edges, and even chunks of wing missing.
    The first round of monarchs that arrive in early summer would all look this way if they had just flown up from Mexico and were that old.
    But most arrivals look pretty fresh and in good condition.
    So I'd presume that their worn out great grandparents wrapped up a hard life down South somewhere on the way North.
    I don't have much for pics of worn out monarchs but I'll post one that's a bit worn I got this morning.
     
  5. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    Here’s a pretty well worn monarch dining on my deck this morning.
    Really not in bad shape compared to some really ragged ones I’ve seen.

    IMG_1304.jpg


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  6. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    So the first three hatched this morning, inciting my wife to burst out shouting my name in excitement like a little kid.
    That alone was worth the effort.
    Here’s on that hasn’t fully expanded its wings yet, which are tiny when it first hatches, but I missed that by a few minutes.

    IMG_1473.jpg

    Here it is with wings fully expanded but still wet, sort of like wet cloth that has no structural integrity.
    iPhone pics not great but easy to post.

    IMG_1478.jpg

    Here’s one fully dry and getting antsy to go outside.
    They’re not tame but not afraid of being handled either, if you get them at the right time.
    Delivered to the flower patch.

    IMG_1460.jpg


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  7. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    Maybe five hours after cracking out of the chrysalis, fully dry and able to support itself.

    IMG_1454.jpg

    Climbing aboard the next train of life!

    IMG_1456.jpg


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  8. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    The first two pictured are females but one is a male pictured here.
    For some reason he fluttered down to my cargo shorts on the way out of the house, before I put him on a flower.
    You can tell he’s a male by the two wing spots near the bottom of his body.
    I had to apologize for not having any cargo shorts in his size.

    IMG_1458.jpg

    IMG_1465.jpg


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  9. Bristlehound

    Bristlehound Friend of Leo's

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    It's great to see you guys doing this for nature. I love the photos. I do what I can but it's a bit of a mono-culture round here with just sheep fields and hedges. Friends call it a weed patch... I call it a wildlife reserve!
     
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  10. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    One more this morning, got a pic a little earlier when the wings were smaller, not at the first cracking out though.
    You can see the body is fat full of the fluid that gets pumped through the wings to expand them..

    IMG_1499.jpg

    A few hours later ready to go.

    IMG_1504.jpg

    Put her on some blooming liatris.

    IMG_1514.jpg


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