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Butterfly Safety
updated: Dec 21, 2012, 3:15 PM

By Edhat Subscriber

Any Monarch Butterfly experts out there? I observed one of the cocoons in my yard produce a healthy-looking Monarch two days ago. It was the afternoon before the first freezing temperature night. It survived, but never seemed to warm up enough to fly yesterday. Another cold night last night, and he is still where he hatched out, just listing and occasionally beating one wing. It seems warm enough for his wings to have filled with the fluid that makes them flight-worthy, but as time passes, he's listing back and forth to one side or the other. Is he a goner?

Comments in order of when they were received | (reverse order)

 COMMENT 356479 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-12-21 03:46 PM

i think he won't make it on his own if he hasn't flown yet. you might adopt him and feed him sugar water on a sponge... i've saved many before, they can live quite a while with loving care.


 COMMENT 356484 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-12-21 03:53 PM

79 that's a nice idea and it must be nice to watch them thrive. Also call the Museum of Natural History they have an expert that can advise you. I thought they were on their way to Mexico for the warmer weather by now.


 COMMENT 356487 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-12-21 04:07 PM

The Monarchs are usually here in Santa Cruz from Mid-October to late January. I hope you are able to save this little guy. I'd love to have a pet Monarch.


 COMMENT 356543 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-12-21 06:45 PM

Ophryocystis elektroscirrha is a parasitic condition resulting from spores that may transfer from the milkweed to the chrysalis. Or from the adult monarch to the egg. This parasite will cause abnormal development of the wings.
Look to see that both wings truly have fully filled with fluid or if they are less normal, in any way.
If the wings really do look okay, your little friend could be suffering from the cold. It couldn't hurt, to bring him/her inside during cold nights and feed him/her. Gatorade and juicy juice are okay to use, I have heard. ( A warning, however: I have had to administer many mercy killings, thanks to this parasite.)

You can tell the males from the females: the males have a small black tear-drop shaped spot, seen to left and right of lower abdomen, on hindwings. These are scent glands, used to make him more attractive to the females.

There are two separate migrations of monarchs: One that originates in Canada and overwinters in the Oyamel fir forests, high in the mountains of Central Mexico.

The California population overwinters in Central California and migrates no further south, generally, than San Diego.

The Canadian population contains three to four generations of butterflies. In other words, the one butterfly flies south to Mexico to overwinter, but it is the granddaughter or great-granddaughter who returns to Canada.

Fascinating stuff.


 COMMENT 356551P agree helpful negative off topic

2012-12-21 07:27 PM

OP here. RIP, Little Monarch buddy. I moved him indoors late this afternoon, but he was very weak. I handled him with the utmost care, not wanting to get my scent on him or damage his wings. He seemed to temporarily perk up with some homemade nectar, a tiny chunk of cantaloupe (for decoration)? and an indirect heat lamp. But after that, he listed again. From then on he never perked up. I just checked and he is showing not even the tiniest hint of life. In other words, he didn't make it. Oh well, I think I am still glad I did not initially intervene. It was important to let nature try to do it's thing. I am just sorry it was so cold on his first night of life. So it goes.


 COMMENT 356568P agree helpful negative off topic

2012-12-21 08:31 PM

Oh, little lives. Even as small as they are, they can touch us deeply.

There are also "resident" non-migratory monarch populations in Southern Florida, coastal Texas, Hawaii, the Caribbean Islands, Central and South America. The milkweed is available in those locations all year round, so the butterflies have no need to migrate.


 YIN YANG agree helpful negative off topic

2012-12-21 09:04 PM

Well done, OP, very well done. Thanks for trying.


 COMMENT 356595 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-12-22 06:20 AM

Yes, thanks for trying. I had the same thing happen a couple of months ago. Was able to witness the Monarch emerge from the chrysalis and capture on video. But sadly, his one wing was deformed. Had a little cap of water and orange slices and actually witness him drink the water.

Another Monarch question (I will post pictures). Yesterday at El Camino Park in Ventura I noticed several huge clumps of monarchs had moved from the eucalyptus to a pine tree. You can actually stand right under and watch them (not close enough to touch, thankfully). Haven't seen this happen and seems they're not as protected as they are in the barranca.

Any comments?


 COMMENT 356619 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-12-22 07:42 AM

Eucalyptus are not necessary to the monarchs survival. See the informative post re: migration, lifecycle.

I thought the Mexican forests were exclusively pine, but now know the dominant species are pine and fir. And it's a chrysalis, not a cocoon.


 COMMENT 356639 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-12-22 08:24 AM

David Snow is an authority on monarch habitat.
(805) 390-7227


 COMMENT 356668P agree helpful negative off topic

2012-12-22 09:25 AM

When we last visited the sanctuary at Thanksgiving, there were a LOT fewer butterflies. Has the number gotten larger since then, does anybody know from visiting?


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