There is so much to learn from Nature. I spend a lot of time photographing it. There is always a challenge!! Too small, wrong lighting, too far away, in the middle of leaves, etc. Where there's a will there is a way!! Lots of patience needed!
A great project for kids can start now. The Monarch butterflies are back and there seem to be a good number. To help them you can collect the eggs and hatch and raise the caterpillar and then let the butterfly go. My daughter-in-law taught me what the eggs looked like. I have collected 8 so this year and 1 has hatched so far.
The eggs have a definite conical shape and have ridges down it. They are whitish and are smaller than a pin head!! A magnifying glass helps too identify them. They are usually on the underside of a Milkweed leaf. I bring the leaf in and put it in a container so I can see the egg. I put several in one container. They take 3-5 days to hatch. They go darker as it is getting ready to hatch. The caterpillar is minute! Less than than 3mm. I keep fresh Milkweed every day. After a few days as it gets bigger it eats a lot!! When its quite big I add twigs in the container for it to attach to when its ready to turn into a chrysalis. When the butterfly hatches it can hold onto the twig while it's wings dry. My grandkids love finding them and watching them change into the butterfly.
You can get containers at the $ store. They are specially for collecting things and have air holes. You need to be able to see in from the sides. I also have a small fish tank so it can take several. I cover it with screening or something with fine holes. Don't have open water as the caterpillar can fall in and drown.I use a small jar with sand and water and cover with tin foil and poke the leaves through so they don't wilt.
Monarch egg. Less than a pin head in size!
Caterpillar 1 day old. Less than 3mm in length!
Putting up bird and Humming bird feeders is a good way to learn about the local birds. You find surprises sometimes!!
Last Summer my Hummer feeder was empty 3 mornings in a row!! It was full the evening before. Nothing was out of place. So I set up my infra red camera. Next morning I found out who was my sugar stealer!!! A female Racoon was able to climb on the x-pen and reach the feeders. She carefully tipped the syrup into her mouth!!! She obviously had babies to feed!!
When the Hummer babies hatch they come and play around the feeder. They dive-bomb each other!! It is fun watching them.
The sugar stealer!!
under construction Jun 21
Egg goes dark just before hatching. Looks like the caterpillars head.
The caterpillar attaches itself by silk to start it's transformation. This caterpillar had escaped the tank and had attached itself to the dog bed!! I had to unatttach it and I used Gorilla glue to attach it to the twig! By the next morning it had become a chrysalis.
This caterpillar had attached itself to the tank. I saw it had started to change. Click on pic to see video. It satrs at the bottom and takes about 2-3 mins.
Continuing the change. Watch carefully to see the caterpillar skin scrunch up. Click on pic to see video.
The final stages as his skin separates and the chrysalis is complete. The skin drops down after a few mins. Click on pic to see video.