Author Topic: The Saga of my Monarch butterfly babies and other garden/nature adventures  (Read 666 times)  

Offline Atunah

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As many here know by know, I bought my first house. And its my first spring in this house. Lady we bought it from planted anything and everything that grows I guess.  8)

When we looked at the house in September last year, we knew. Then by the time we closed cold snap came in at 22 degrees and killed a lot of stuff. So I wasn't sure what would come back. Anywho, I knew there were lots of butterflies, because when we looked at the house we were literally attacked by them just walking in. They were everywhere. Monarchs at that.

So I been learning a lot of things this spring. Identifying plants and trees, watching caterpillars eat my stuff, fighting armies of ants and what happens to those pretty caterpillars. First stuff grew I almost tore out because I thought it was weeds. Well, it kind of was, milk weeds. So next thing I know there are these striped things eating my plants. Google to the rescue. So I leave them alone and they basically chomp down my milk weed to nothing but stumps.  :-X. I didn't take a pic of them munching unfortunately. I could actually see them chomping down.

So I learned when they done eating, they go and find a place to hang upside down in an "j" shape. How did I find this out? Because the idiots decided to hang themselves on my front security door. Exhibit A:

There were like 5 on my door, and a few more around on the brick wall surrounding it. I have a small porch overhang, I guess its protected.
So here I am trying to protect my baby J's as I called them. Cause that door has a spring thingy and usually slams shut. I didn't want to kill them. This was 2 weeks ago.  :-X

So then I watch them in one day they go from J's to gold embossed Jade pods. I am still in awe how they wrapped themselves into that and made it so pretty.
Exhibit B


So this was 2 weeks ago. For 2 weeks I been trying to slowly close that door, walk out the side gate, garage, just so I wouldn't hurt those babies.
Yesterday finally some movement. They turned into this

and before I went to bad last night. Look at those wings. Here its almost out


And today my babies hatched. It took them a while to take flight. Their wings looked a bit crinkled for a while so they sat on the door hanging onto the husk of their former jade pod. I am still confused how they go from green/black/white stripe to gold leaf embossed green jade pods and then orange wings. That is some shape shifting going on there.

Anywho, it was great watching, but I am glad to have my front door back without fear of murdering a defenseless butterfly.  :-\
« Last Edit: April 28, 2019, 01:21:55 pm by Atunah »

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    Offline CegAbq

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    Re: The Saga of my Monarch butterfly babies.
    « Reply #1 on: April 27, 2019, 07:17:42 pm »
    This is so awesome & beautiful ... thanks for sharing!
    Carol in 'burque

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    Offline crebel

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    Re: The Saga of my Monarch butterfly babies.
    « Reply #2 on: April 27, 2019, 08:18:57 pm »
    That really is awesome, Atunah, great pictures.  Last year my grandchildren "raised" some Monarchs, much like you did, but in a terrarium type setting in the house.  Except they (well, really, their parents), had to scour the ditches along country roads to provide enough milkweed for them to flourish. 

    Watching them hatch and releasing them back to the wild was a wonderful activity.  You'll certainly have that to look forward to every year!  I wonder if there is some sort of structure you can make/buy that will attract them to attach and cocoon besides your screen door.

    Offline Atunah

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    Re: The Saga of my Monarch butterfly babies.
    « Reply #3 on: April 27, 2019, 09:19:43 pm »
    I may plant some more milk weed next year. Now I have the swallowtails munching on my fennel. I think they are black swallowtails around here? Not sure but they are large and really pretty too. I found some tiger moth caterpillars too. Its like everyday I find something new. Not all desired. We had a pretty hawk too on my fence. There were two different once over the last few weeks, one came as a pair. I only managed to take a pic of one.

    This I took end of february. He had his eye on something in the greenbelt and then went off.


    Apparently there is a hawk nest in the next community over and they have had 11 attacks in the last week.  :-X. Don't know if its these kinds of hawks. The others I saw looked different from that one.

    ignore that sad looking non working fountain. No clue yet what to do with that heavy broken thing.
    « Last Edit: April 27, 2019, 09:22:54 pm by Atunah »

    Offline CegAbq

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    Re: The Saga of my Monarch butterfly babies.
    « Reply #4 on: April 27, 2019, 10:37:14 pm »
    We've got an abundance of Road Runners here in NM; (and now I cannot find some of my pics!!!)
    And we've got a Great Horned Owl nesting pair (and some blurry pics not worth posting)
    We've had a pair of robin's successfully nest young in our backyard

    It's so cool to be able to contribute to the cycle of life in nature
    Carol in 'burque

    Life's journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in an attractive and well-preserved body, but rather to Skid in sideways, champagne in one hand, strawberries in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and shouting: Damn-What a ride!

    Offline Atunah

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    Re: The Saga of my Monarch butterfly babies.
    « Reply #5 on: April 27, 2019, 11:01:53 pm »
    Had to look up what a road runner looks like. I want one, they are adorable with that mohawk on their head  ;D. Never seen one of those. We have a lot of grackles around here. I prefer other birds, but here they are. Doves, they must have followed me from the apartment, we had lots of those too. And cardinals. Last place we had titmouse birds. They are really cute too. One got caught in one of my nets I had over the peppers and I had to cut it out. Poor thing was about to get a heart attack while in my palm.  I see other birds but I don't know what they are. I only know the basics and if they are somewhat unique looking. Otherwise I am clueless.
    Those grackles have the creepiest eyes and they land right next to me on the fence and tilt their head and look at me. Gulp.  :-X

    Since we are talking birds. We hadn't slept here for 3 weeks when this stupid cardinal decided to give me a few gray hairs. See him on my light top left? Bit blurry

    here he is in that top window right above the OPEN DOOR.  :-\

    It took me hours and hours and I could not get him to fly out that front door. Oh no, he had to slam into the glass over and over, freak out, huff and puff and breathe with mouth open. He was exhausted, I was exhausted. I thought he was going to die and I felt horrible. Hubby comes home, talks to the doofus and out the door he goes. Like 10 minutes. I was not amused.  >:(

    Offline The Hooded Claw

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    Re: The Saga of my Monarch butterfly babies.
    « Reply #6 on: April 27, 2019, 11:54:52 pm »
    Atunah Im envious about your Monarch experience! Ive always wanted to see that happen naturally!
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    Offline LDB

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    Re: The Saga of my Monarch butterfly babies.
    « Reply #7 on: April 28, 2019, 07:19:07 am »
    We have an owl of some sort that spends it's days in the trees anywhere about 3-4 houses either direction from our house. It is usually very chatty through the morning hours.
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    Offline prairiesky

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    Re: The Saga of my Monarch butterfly babies.
    « Reply #8 on: April 28, 2019, 09:42:17 am »
    Great photos and so fascinating. Thanks for sharing.

    Offline Atunah

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    Re: The Saga of my Monarch butterfly babies.
    « Reply #9 on: April 28, 2019, 01:15:04 pm »
    We have an owl of some sort that spends it's days in the trees anywhere about 3-4 houses either direction from our house. It is usually very chatty through the morning hours.
    I would love to see a owl closeup. I don't have any big trees close by, they are mostly across the green belt. I assume they like big trees. Do they even hang out in south texas?

    Atunah Im envious about your Monarch experience! Ive always wanted to see that happen naturally!

    It was so unexpected and delightful. But also scary as I didn't want to be the cause of casualties.  :-X
    I honestly didn't know much about how they come about other than they come from caterpillars of course. But I didn't know about that pretty pod they make and how they make it. I watched one hanging in that 'j" shape and he started to wrap himself in this green stuff. Don't know how he fit into that pod. Its still baffling. And where the heck do all these colors come from. gold, jade green, black, yellow then orange and black.


    I wish I could take better pictures of stuff. Its a well known fact that I take some of the worse photos. Now I can take many in a row to get a decent one, but back in the day with 35, it was a tragedy. Didn't know until later how truly awful I was.  ;D. My phone camera isn't the best and all I know how to do is hit the button. Touch button that is. I am sure there are some settings, but I have no clue how to fiddle with that stuff and what that is. Point and shoot is my middle  name.  8)

    The milk weed is already growing again and the monarchs are flying all over the place. Got a mouthful of one earlier when I was setting up my pepper garden. Now I finally don't have to fiddle with it on balconies, worrying about the dirt falling down on the neighbors. There is some small persimmon tree which has lots of red flowers. Its not the edible kind, more like a landscape. So the flutter things were all over it and me and my work.

    Here is my starter garden. I have 3 more boxes up front with the rosemary trees and oregano. Closer to the kitchen. This is in the back of the yard behind the radio shack (shed). Next year I plan on extending the fleet of earthboxes for zuccini and something else. Its hot back there and sun most day so it will have to be stuff that likes it like that.
    Took me this weekend to set this all up. I have a farmers tan now. I put sunscreen everywhere but my forearms.  :P



    Any of you guys do any gardening? I tried to so what I could on balconies but its so much easier to set this up. I put down pavers for the earthboxes and surrounded it with some mulch. Because the weeds in my yard are no joke. They are fierce and have declared war. If its not weeds its ants. Keep me on my toes. And I put bird netting around it for now. Because I already saw a squirrel eyeballing what I was doing. They used to eat my little plants down at the apartment. One year in one hour me going inside, a squirrel killed and ate 12 seedlings of peppers.

    And an hour ago I saw one of those larger type lizards run across my yard in front of me. I seen the little normal ones, this one had spikes. So I googled and found its a texas spiny lizard.

    Aren't they cute? This is not my picture. He was too fast running under the pergola. I love lizzies. They eat the bugs and that one will eat lots of them. Its like a mini dinosaur. The other ones are just those small ones that go from green to brown. They are everywhere. Always watching me when I weed or snip.  ;D
    « Last Edit: April 28, 2019, 01:23:11 pm by Atunah »

    Offline LDB

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    I've never seen this owl but I think my best half saw it once. I just hear it regularly. There are a lot of big trees, it's an old neighborhood. They're too thick foliage to see it in the tree. I've seen a hawk flying around now and then but so far not the owl.
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    Offline Atunah

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    Now I am imagining all these owls hiding in trees watching. Always watching.  ;D

    I just got another nature surprise. This amaryllis popped out of nowhere. It wasn't there a couple of weeks ago, I think I remember seeing the green leaves and wondering what it was. Almost got hacked off by the edger. Then suddenly the stem comes up. Actually I swear there were 2 stems, but now I see only one. I guess they just keep coming back in our climate? And all those pansies everywhere. They pop up too in weird places. Even in between the paver stones.  :-X


    I did a lot of trimming today this morning. Got a break in the rain and it wasn't too hot or sunny. Had a bit of a tussle with the cacti. So many cacti and they need to be trimmed. They don't have the long spines, but the small tiny ones that go through the gloves and I have to pry them out with small tweezers from my hands. I had to trim bushes in between those darn things and that asked for some gymnastics. This time I cut and grabbed them into a bucked with the snipper. So didn't touch them.
    Planted some flowers. Some Pentas red, Angelonia purple, clockwork orange impatients, some more lavender the fern type and some mango orange verbena. I had already put down some plumerias which are doing fine, but the celosia isn't doing too great. I won't be putting those down again.

    Gonna get me more of the pentas and the angelonia as they are made for extreme heat, humidity and drought. Perfect for here.

    I also put down some chard seeds as the one chard that just came up by itself in the raised garden bed is like 3 feet wide now. We love eating it. Its also great for the heat here so need some more. I can't grow spinach here as it all just wilts and we eat the chard in salad or steaming.

    Oh and I put down 2 lemongrass they had on sale at HEB. HEB is our grocery store. They unfortunately have a well stocked garden center. So every time I go grocery shopping I bring home something plant like.  :P. Lemongrass is so expensive to buy and we like making thai soups and such at times. They are still not quite ready to be harvested. about 18 inches tall with 3 or so stems. I can use the leaves though already for tea. I'll try that one soon.

    Its already so warm here that I have to do most gardening in the morning. And I have to cover myself in SPF and layers of insect repellent. All this rain brought out the mosquitos and whatever else likes to bit. Jiggers. I have to wear armour to do weeding. And so many weeds. I had no idea how many varieties of weeds there are. 

    Now if I could just win the fight with the ants.  :-\ :-X
    « Last Edit: May 07, 2019, 02:43:39 pm by Atunah »

    Offline Atunah

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    we will be having 102 degrees by Sunday, so needless to say outside is a wee bit on the hot side.  :o
    I mean come on, what happened to spring.  :-\

    So for the last 3 days, I been flirting with a lizzard at my grapefruit window as I call it. The view is basically into the tree. We have 3 different lizzards so far I could identify. The green anole, brown anole and the spiny texard lizzard. The green ones always follow me it seems when i am out weeding and watch from some leaf. Now I have this brown one that for the last 3 days has been flirting with me in that window. He "knocks" on the window by jumping on it until I go look and then he does these flirty things. Like here he looked straight at me. If you have a touch screen device you can zoom in and see his face.

    After he saw me he did this neck thing

    Then he is being all coy


    I am being courted by a lizzard?  :-X :-X


    Offline CegAbq

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    I am being courted by a lizzard?  :-X :-X
    :P Oh, definitely think so!
    Carol in 'burque

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    Offline Atunah

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    So I had this plant like thing. Long lush green stems of leaves with some tubular closed things on it I thought should be flowers. But they never opened. So I looked it up and its a nightshade thingie, lady of the night that only blooms at night. Duh. So last night I snuck out in the dark to catch it and could only see a few of the open small flowers. It was pretty dark so I didn't see anything other than the flash and then inside I could finally see if I took a decent pic.

     And guess what, a darn lizzy photobombed my flower photo  ;D See him sleeping in the bottom right on a leaf. He looks light green. I did not see him when I was taking it, was too dark.  We were wondering where all the lizards go at night. I went out again like an hour later and he was still there so I guess they actually sleep like this. What silly curious creatures.


    And another picture of me finally giving up and giving in to nature on my side yard. I kept trying to keep the weeds in check and kind of fell behind with trimming the vines, weeds, plants, whatever. It was just too hot. Now I wouldn't be able to tell anymore whats what. The fence has been taken over by vine thingies its like a green waterfall. I'll just keep it off the walkway ad that is it. Its been raining on and off with hot temps and stuff just grows so fast.


    Offline CegAbq

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    Too cool to have a lizzy photo-bombing !!  :P
    And I love the lushness of the vines on the fence  :D
    Carol in 'burque

    Life's journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in an attractive and well-preserved body, but rather to Skid in sideways, champagne in one hand, strawberries in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and shouting: Damn-What a ride!

    Offline Atunah

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    I love the lizzies. They are everywhere. Saw a tiny baby one, looked like a fetus on a leaf. So cute. His hands looked translucent.  ;D

    Yeah, looks neat the lushness, but all I can think about is how I have to cut all that down in winter. When we moved into the house the first frost or two had already happened, so a lot of stuff was already dead. So there was a lot of work to cut it all down, rip out stuff. I had no idea what was what then. That whole side on the fence was bare, so was the left. I knew it was lantana on left along the house and that does come back, but I didn't know what was on the other side. I ripped a lot of stuff out I thought might be dead weeds. Apparently nature has come back at me with a vengeance.

    I am facing the same issue now on the pergola that is surrounded on all sides by some sort of climbing vine thingie. It was pretty much mostly dead and I had to pull it down out from the wood. I was going to keep on top of it this year, trim it back and tie it back. But again, it got so hot I couldn't stand to do any work out there and its taken over too lol. And now I get this stunning large flowers on it. I'll take a picture of one. I have no idea what vine it is and those flowers are big and red and weird looking. At least in winter when I have to work out there it will be cooler. So I just pretent its my workout.

    I did some more mulching the other day as I still  have about 13 bags to use up before the HOA yells at me for having a pallet in the driveway. I was out there in the shade for like just over an hour and I about died. I went straight into the shower. I have to wear layers of sunscreen and top it off with Picaridin for the bugs or I will be eaten alive. It ends up after a while as a sticky mess as dirt and stuff just clings to my skin.  :-X

    Again, I'll just mark that off as workout. I am not doing any otherwise.  ;D

    Today hopefully we can be outside a bit. I'll put on my spf/bug armour and we'll grill some burgers.  8)

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