Tuesday, August 18, 2020

9 Monarch Caterpillars

Today Zac and I got busy and tidied up the pollinator garden!

I haven't gotten any truckloads of shredded bark mulch yet, so we are putting down layers of corrugated cardboard and butcher paper around the plants we want to keep, and thereby covering up the volunteer grass and officially giving up on the pollinator plants that didn't make it. (I'm sad about the bronze fennel... I loved it but so did our neighboring Striped Chipmunk.)

What's left? A huge mass of milkweed, four Joe Pye weeds, four New England asters, six different kinds of basil, one kale, and one chive plant.


We looked closely at the milkweed and found nine monarch caterpillars!

I realized today that I don't actually need to buy a butterfly pavillion. I have a very large aquarium / terrarium with a nice wooden top with a large mesh panel in it. A friend made the wooden lid for me way back in 2000, when I taught fourth grade for the first time. Our class pet was a pair of Madagascar hissing cockroaches. They were my beloved personal pets. I remember them well! Queenie and Buzz. They even had babies for us... those were adorable. Unfortunately, they didn't survive because I didn't put in enough wet sponges for them. It was a LOT of babies!

So, I have had this habitat for 20 years and today I realized that there was a hole in the screen. However, the spline was still good. So I removed the spline, put in a new piece of fine black mesh from my bag of donated fabric scraps (thank you, Miss Sherrie), and put the spline back in its little groove. Perfect. Hopefully it will last another 20 years!

I did buy some floral cutting tubes and a rack for milkweed, and when they arrive we will transfer a few caterpillars to the habitat and see if we can have success watching their metamorphosis! We have done this in my classroom more than once, because my Aunt Carol would always send a jar of caterpillars and milkweed home with the girls at the end of their summer vacation. I remember well doing it for the first time in 2015, when Zac was only a few months old. I also found some Nature Table photos from 2017.

But now Zac will be old enough to really enjoying watching it all happen! Here are some photos from today:

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