Last year, my butterfly observation took place indoors-in my laundry room to be more specific. I lost a couple caterpillars and a butterfly and wondered how or if my involvement played a part. One of the chrysalises fell to the ground, and I strung it back up. This was an example of good interference; the butterfly emerged happy and healthy.
But there’s always the possibility of unintended bad interference from an indoor environment. So this time around, I wanted to truly observe-hands off. It was a promising start from the caterpillars to the first chrysalis.
Now for the bad news…out of six chrysalises, only two became healthy Monarch butterflies. Out of the three chrysalises outside of the milk crate, only one survived. And although all three chrysalises inside the milk crate survived, only one produced a health butterfly. My outcome was actually much better in the laundry room – three healthy butterflies from four chrysalises. Outside the milk crate, the only success came from under the windowsill.
I didn’t see the butterfly emerge…of course! Only the empty chrysalis remained when I got home. The two chrysalises that attached under the eave of the roof didn’t last more than a day. One ended up crushed on the brick path. Either the wind or a bird must have knocked it down. How it got crushed? I can’t bear to think on it too much, but I did check the bottom of my sneakers and they looked clean.
The other chrysalis stayed in place but was attacked by something. John suggested a spider, and I can’t rule it out.
I’ve let the spider webs get out of control because they’re disgustingly fascinating. They trapped a lizard! So now on top of gross fascination, I’m too freaked out to pull them down.
But no matter what it was that initially attacked the chrysalis, the ants were what finished it off.
As for the three chrysalises inside the milk crate, two of the butterflies emerged infected with Ophryocystis elektroscirrha (OE). OE is a parasitic spore that can infect the caterpillars or chrysalises…more to come on that in a future post.