Babysitting a butterfly

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sylvanworksCLOSED
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Posted Sun Sep 6, 2009 8:31PM
So last summer we had a great time caring for monarch caterpillars while waiting for their transformation into butterflies. I had hoped to repeat the project this summer, but due to my procrastination I didn't make it out into the field until this past Wednesday.

wpid482-20090902-0040-editsm

The field is a retired hay field now being overcome by milkweed, which is the only thing monarch caterpillars eat. Last summer I easily found a dozen caterpillars, but this year I was too late and couldn't find a single one. I suspect part of the reason I came up empty was that I waited until after the school year started and monarch raising is a popular beginning of school year activity. I did spend the better part of an hour wandering around searching. Aside from feeding a few mosquitoes I did find an impressive number of spiders and dragonflies. I also found a praying mantis (which I brought home to my garden).

As I looped back around to where I left my bag I saw something struggling in the tall grass. It turned out to be what I assumed to have been a freshly hatched monarch butterfly. I was excited at first, but once I freed it from the grass I could see its wings had not fully formed. When a monarch butterfly first emerges from the chrysalis it has a bit of work to do. It has to get its proboscis in working order and then pump fluid from its plump little body into its wings to give them their shape. I hoped this one was in the process of the latter and just needed some time, so I put it in the butterfly tent and headed home.

I figured I'd put it on a flower in the sun and let it finish its work. Upon closer inspection I saw that her wings were not looking too good and her body was not still full of fluid. She (you can sex a butterfly by looking at its wings) did start chowing down right away though. So I left her there and hoped for the best.

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I kept an eye on her through out the day and picked her up a couple of times after she fell off the flowers. It was clear a trip to Mexico was not in her future. So, what to do? Well, I decided to bring her inside that night and put her back out in the morning. I went out looking for a butterfly project that day and even though this wasn't what I had in mind it caught the interest of my 8 year old son, so what the h*ck.

That morning my son put her back out on the butterfly bush (where else?) and we went about our usual routines. I went out to check on her later that day and couldn't find her anywhere. I figured nature had taken its course and went back inside. I told my son later that day that she was gone and he assured me that her wings got better and she flew off to Mexico.

Two days later my wife says to me, "Oh, I forgot to tell you. I saw your gimpy butterfly today." She told me she saw it on the far side of the yard earlier in the day. So my son and I went out to that side of the yard and sure enough there she was. Stuck in the grass again. Over the course of about 48 hours she managed to walk all of about 50 feet. She was heading South at least, but Mexico is a long walk from New Hampshire.

My son heard my wife call it my "gimpy butterfly", but misheard it as "glimpy" so, from that point on we referred to her as Glimpy,

Now 5 days after stumbling across Glimpy it seems we have a new pet. She spent another glorious day being chauffeured from flower to flower around the yard by either my son or myself (my wife is tolerant but not ready to stoop so low).

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She comes in for the night on a bouquet of fresh cut flowers and hangs out in her tent. We should all be so lucky. I don't know how long this will last, but we'll enjoy it while it does. I just thought I'd share.
pink_cotton_candy
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Posted Sun Sep 6, 2009 8:35PM
thank you!!!
singlewhitepixel
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Posted Sun Sep 6, 2009 8:36PM

How can you sex a butterfly by looking at its wings? what do you look for?


Nice story - I hope she lives for a while longer and your son is not too upset when nature finally takes its course...
risamay
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Posted Sun Sep 6, 2009 8:36PM
Wow. Awesome
SochAnam
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Posted Sun Sep 6, 2009 8:38PM
Awww, what a great story! You son is fortunate to have you for a dad. Keep us posted on Glimpy.
PrairieArtProject
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Posted Sun Sep 6, 2009 8:40PM

That's adorable. Best wishes to Glimpy!! Rob, you could always book her a flight to Mexico, right?


I had a chicken that went blind. One of us got her out of her box every morning, put her in the yard, fed her by hand, brought her water, walked her around, and put her to bed again at night. She liked to sit on laps and be carried to the mailbox and the field to scratch. Her name was JoJo. She was very cute. I'm a big believer in karma
sylvanworksCLOSED
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Posted Sun Sep 6, 2009 8:55PM

Posted By singlewhitepixel:

How can you sex a butterfly by looking at its wings? what do you look for?


Nice story - I hope she lives for a while longer and your son is not too upset when nature finally takes its course...


See here.

I think he'll roll with it.
inhauscreative
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Posted Sun Sep 6, 2009 8:59PM
Keep us informed as to the progress of Glimpy!
singlewhitepixel
Member is a contributor and has less than 250 Photo downloadsMember has had a submission accepted to the Designer SpotlightThis member has lost their last cage match. Consider this the black eye the bully gave you after school by the bike racks.
Posted Sun Sep 6, 2009 9:03PM
Interesting, thank you. We have monarchs here in New Zealand but they don't migrate over the winter.
inhauscreative
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Posted Sun Sep 6, 2009 9:05PM

I've been thinking bout buying the caterpillars and growing them into the full butterflys


http://www.livemonarch.com/store.php
Purdue9394
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Posted Sun Sep 6, 2009 9:14PM

Rob -- Very cool!  We did something similar with a hummingbird last summer that had gotten disoriented and fatigued in my garage.  After almost stepping on it, my kids and I nursed it back by feeding it sugar water from a bottlecap.  It took about 20 minutes, but the little birdy was eventually able to fly off.   Great lesson for the kids.


DSC_5127hummingbird
GreenPimp
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Posted Sun Sep 6, 2009 9:39PM

Posted By Purdue9394:
Great lesson for the kids.

Great lesson for adults, too. Grimpy has the warm fuzzies. Thanks for sharing.
Missing35mm
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Posted Sun Sep 6, 2009 9:50PM

Great story!  Thanks for sharing that, Rob.


Oh, and Jason, I had a similar hummingbird experience on Friday.  Little female broad-tailed crashed my window and i sat with her for an hour holding her on a soft blanket til she came to.  She flitted on to my knee and just looked at me for several seconds before flying away.


I think animals know gratitude.  Even the smallest and weakest. 
PrairieArtProject
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Posted Sun Sep 6, 2009 11:03PM
Awww... I want to hold a hummingbird!!! The smallest I've ever held was a house wren that was in my kitchen cabinet (don't ask -- my children are allergic to doors). So tiny!!
thekekster
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Posted Sun Sep 6, 2009 11:56PM
lovely story! thanks for the read! hope glimpy makes it to mexico one day!
jsnover
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Posted Mon Sep 7, 2009 12:21AM
There's something sweetly touching and hopeful about this lovely story.
Whiteway
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Posted Mon Sep 7, 2009 2:39AM
So that's what you do when you're not wrestling bears over dashing waterfalls?
sylvanworksCLOSED
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Posted Mon Sep 7, 2009 6:18AM

Posted By inhauscreative:

I've been thinking bout buying the caterpillars and growing them into the full butterflys


http://www.livemonarch.com/store.php


Do it! Just make sure you have a good crop of milkweed for them. You might need to wait until next season?

Glimpy woke to another lovely sunny morning and is starting the day on the Sedum.
scottdunlap
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Posted Mon Sep 7, 2009 7:10AM

Yesterday morning my wife came across a young barred owl that was less than a foot off the road. Most likely was hit by a car while hunting. After many calls I found a guy that rehabilitates birds of prey (let me tell you, it's very difficult to find anyone on the long weekend). 


My kids named him Ozzy, who spent the night in the garage. I just returned from handing him off and I'm happy to say the prognosis looks good!


owl


 
sylvanworksCLOSED
Member is a Diamond contributor and has 25,000 - 199,999 Photo downloadsMember has had a File Of The WeekMember has been inducted into the iStockphoto Hall of Fame.
Posted Mon Sep 7, 2009 7:15AM
Good news!
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