Welcome To Ovenminded

About My Bakin', Cookin', Wine Makin'!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Building Our Butterfly Garden

Butterflies received their name it's believed because the yellow ones looked like, well , flying butter! The Monarch was named by the pilgrims, the colors reminded them of the crown the King of England wore, hence the name Monarch. We all have admired and marveled at the amazing flying flowers, ( name given by native Americans), in our  gardens. The Daniel Stowe Botanical Gardens advertised a 'Butterfly Release' to take place in their Orchid Conservatory ,of course we wanted to attend such an event as never having  experienced anything like this.The DSBG, is 25 minutes from us, just above the border between North and South Carolina.
The event was very educational, as well as totally enjoyable, that experience propelled us into researching more about these marvelous insects. Through the garden staff were able to get in touch with a lady who raised butterflies in VA, and now here in NC. Renelle invited us to their home to view her Monarch caterpillars and chrysalides, we were definitely hooked! We left with a 'Hatchery Box', Tom, her husband had  built, AND several caterpillars, in addition, leaves from the milk weed plant for the 'cats' to feed on,as the plant is host specific to the Monarch.They eat nothing else, and is the plant the eggs are laid upon.
      We had the distinct pleasure of observing the cats eat, eat, eat, that's all they do non stop, till after about 2 weeks ,it's time to go into chrysalis. The cats select a high place, in this case ,the inside top of the hatchery box, they hangout so to speak till it finally attaches to the surface with silk and then hangs down in a 'J' form and begins to wrap itself in silk for the metamorphosis into a beautiful butterfly. The process takes about 12-14 days. they emerge and hang from the empty chrysalis and inflate  their wings to expand them and allow time to dry, which can take several hours.At this point they are slow,as not having fed ,usually the next day they begin to feed on nectar.After they have fed and the weather is warm (65+) they may be released into the wild to do their thing!
 The whole underlying purpose of this is to help the population ,as natural areas shrink due to development ,as predation also limits their numbers further, ants, birds and other predators take a huge toll, we can play a crucial role in helping our beautiful friends. Out of 100 eggs laid, 5 might make it to adulthood, bring them inside and protected ,well now we have close to 15 times the number reaching maturity.
 Please come along with us on our new journey into assisting the marvelous Monarch.
The first phase is of course, having a garden of flowering plants for the butterflies to feed on, and an area of host plants, in this case milkweed, of which there are two types, common, which has a wide elongated oval leaf and swamp or aquatic milk weed  which has long narrow leaves either will work

the hatchery box, or cage
Monarch cats feeding on milkweed
this cat has selected a branch in the cage to begin his/her 'J'
the cat swings to cover itself with silk
the finished chrysalis
here one has selected the inside roof of the cage
12-14 days later they emerge
a plastic container with water and hole in lid to accept a small bouquet of flowers for the Monarch to feed on

Creating the garden and milkweed beds
dug out 2 beds about 8" deep, notice the clay layer
built boxes of 2x12 treated lumber to make 2 4x12foot beds
 filled with garden soil and sand
planting 27 milkweed we grew from seed, Renelle gave us
finished and mulched 2' deep
 mulching flower bed
growth after 3 weeks or so
 6-7 weeks, look like shrubs!
flower bed,assorted  plants favored by butterflies, now we just.....wait......

there are numerous web sites for info on creating a butterfly garden and raising them, a helpful book, the Family Butterfly book, i found very informative and has just about all you need to know to start.
 If you would like to email me,please do so!

1 comment:

  1. Wow, that is amazing. Someone gave me a butterfly house this summer. I put it in the back by my garden but have not seen too much activity yet. Maybe they are not attracted to the types of flowers I have. I may have to read up on it. Thanks :)