Gardening for Butterflies, Birds and Bees forum: My personal set up and supplies

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Name: Sheila F
Fort Worth TX (Zone 8a)
Charter ATP Member Tip Photographer I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Region: Texas Butterflies Garden Art
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Sheila_FW
Feb 14, 2010 11:05 PM CST
This is a hobby that can be done in a small area. I have tried several containers and found this to be the easiest an cleanest way for me.

First you need to find the "wet" floral foam that absorbs water. I cut wafer slices from the blocks then using the bottom 1/2 " of pudding cups, lids or other shallow container; press it into the foam like a cookie cutter.
I then take the Glad press n seal and using only a small piece completely cover it. Using a toothpick I pierce the plastic to allow the foam to absorb water.

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Name: Sheila F
Fort Worth TX (Zone 8a)
Charter ATP Member Tip Photographer I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Region: Texas Butterflies Garden Art
Ponds Dog Lover Hummingbirder Birds The WITWIT Badge Region: United States of America
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Sheila_FW
Feb 14, 2010 11:12 PM CST
The container I use more of is about 3 cup size. I place a small piece of paper towel in the bottom to aid in cleaning up frass (poop). I put the foam upside down in a shallow bowl of water and then when wet, insert the host plant sprigs, including the cats that are feeding on them.
My lids are the most important thing for a successful project. The cloth is simular to the inside liner in swimwear, tricot I think is it's name. The center of the lid is removed and a piece of the mesh hot glued at the corner of the under side (careful to keep it out of the seal). The fabric has an tight weave and doesn't ravel. The microscopic predators can't access the caterpillars, and also if it is used for holding chrysalis and one has been parasitised, they can't get out into your garden.

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Name: Sheila F
Fort Worth TX (Zone 8a)
Charter ATP Member Tip Photographer I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Region: Texas Butterflies Garden Art
Ponds Dog Lover Hummingbirder Birds The WITWIT Badge Region: United States of America
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Sheila_FW
Feb 14, 2010 11:33 PM CST
I stand the cages on the ends, but it isn't necessary. However, this way they usually crawl to the top of the cage to make their chrysalis and not on the fabric. We have closed in this wall since this picture was taken, but any space bright, but out of direct sunlight, will work.

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Name: Sheila F
Fort Worth TX (Zone 8a)
Charter ATP Member Tip Photographer I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Region: Texas Butterflies Garden Art
Ponds Dog Lover Hummingbirder Birds The WITWIT Badge Region: United States of America
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Sheila_FW
Feb 15, 2010 8:50 AM CST
After the caterpillars have made their chrysalis and they are firm/dry, the silk webbing can be scrapped away from the plastic and used to pin them on an emerging board. This is where they will become butterflies. It needs to be at an angle to allow the newly emerged butterfly to hang free and the wings to expand and harden.


You see in this picture of Monarchs I have glued them to fabric (not a good idea. a pin is safer and easier). The green chrysalis is the normal color, but the day before emerging they turn black and the wing color is visible. That is because the outer shell of the chrysalis is clear. The butterfly will use the liquid in it's abdomen to expand the wings then the excess fluid is expressed. The tiny crumpled wings expand and harden. When it is able to fly, the butterfly won't nectar right away; it is more concerned in finding shelter and resting.


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Name: josephine
Arlington, Texas (Zone 8a)
Hi Everybody!! Let us talk native.
Native Plants and Wildflowers Organic Gardener Butterflies Garden Ideas: Master Level Forum moderator I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member Plant Identifier Birds Cat Lover Xeriscape
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frostweed
Feb 16, 2010 3:47 PM CST
Very good good forum Sheila, good to see you here. Hurray!
Wildflowers are the Smiles of Nature.
Gardening with Texas Native Plants and Wildflowers.
Name: Sheila F
Fort Worth TX (Zone 8a)
Charter ATP Member Tip Photographer I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Region: Texas Butterflies Garden Art
Ponds Dog Lover Hummingbirder Birds The WITWIT Badge Region: United States of America
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Sheila_FW
Feb 16, 2010 8:54 PM CST
Hey there Josephine. Please start a thread under the Rasing Caterpillars topic, with your method. We need to tell people how to have fun like we do!! Thumbs up
Name: Cat
Edinburg, TX
in the deep south tip of Texas
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TexasPuddyPrint
Feb 16, 2010 9:15 PM CST
Great photos Sheila! You put me to shame :o) I haven't raised much this past year - work has kept me too busy.

Am thinking after seeing all that gladware I'm going to buy stock in the company :o)
My idea of housework is to sweep the room with a glance.

http://community.webshots.com/user/TraylorCatPuddyPrint

Name: Sheila F
Fort Worth TX (Zone 8a)
Charter ATP Member Tip Photographer I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Region: Texas Butterflies Garden Art
Ponds Dog Lover Hummingbirder Birds The WITWIT Badge Region: United States of America
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Sheila_FW
Feb 16, 2010 9:19 PM CST
I use that stuff for everything!
Name: josephine
Arlington, Texas (Zone 8a)
Hi Everybody!! Let us talk native.
Native Plants and Wildflowers Organic Gardener Butterflies Garden Ideas: Master Level Forum moderator I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member Plant Identifier Birds Cat Lover Xeriscape
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frostweed
Feb 16, 2010 10:19 PM CST
I will try to post some as soon as I have a chance. Smiling
Wildflowers are the Smiles of Nature.
Gardening with Texas Native Plants and Wildflowers.
Name: Donna Vincent - gapeahen
Douglas, GA
Visit our new website!
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Vincent_Gardens
Apr 24, 2010 11:21 PM CST
Oh Shelia Thank You for sharing!! What a great set up!!
[url]http://vincentgardens.com[/url]
Donna~Vincent Gardens, Douglas, GA
"Beautifying Our World With Wildlife In Mind"
Name: Sheila F
Fort Worth TX (Zone 8a)
Charter ATP Member Tip Photographer I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Region: Texas Butterflies Garden Art
Ponds Dog Lover Hummingbirder Birds The WITWIT Badge Region: United States of America
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Sheila_FW
Apr 25, 2010 7:11 AM CST
You are welcome. Make sure you add a thread with some pictures with your success too.
We come to GA about once a year, and keep meaning to go down to Okefenokee Swamp and Savannah area. My DH's family is from around Atlanta. I did get to see the Calloway Garden's butterfly exhibit last year. He tells me it is beautiful down your way.
Name: Cat
Edinburg, TX
in the deep south tip of Texas
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TexasPuddyPrint
Apr 25, 2010 11:47 AM CST
Sheila,

I visited the Okefenokee Swamp back in 2008. It was awesome! I'd love to go again but with more time to spare. I was on a quick day tour. I walked that boardwalk that goes through the swamp. It was so hot and humid but I did see lots of caterpillars on the sweetbay growing wild there.

Also saw gobs of huge Cicada Killer wasps at some old house there - can't remember who's place it was - but it was on part of the tour. Lots of those insect killer pitcher plants growing wild along the ditches too...saw several alligators in them too!
My idea of housework is to sweep the room with a glance.

http://community.webshots.com/user/TraylorCatPuddyPrint

Name: Donna Vincent - gapeahen
Douglas, GA
Visit our new website!
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Vincent_Gardens
Apr 25, 2010 12:59 PM CST
I'm only 40 miles north east of the Okefenokee Swamp. Give me a holler when you're coming through again!! It's been years since I've visited Callaway, I must get there this year!!

I'm working on my database for nectar & host plants! Looking for helpers!
[url]http://vincentgardens.com[/url]
Donna~Vincent Gardens, Douglas, GA
"Beautifying Our World With Wildlife In Mind"
Name: Sheila F
Fort Worth TX (Zone 8a)
Charter ATP Member Tip Photographer I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Region: Texas Butterflies Garden Art
Ponds Dog Lover Hummingbirder Birds The WITWIT Badge Region: United States of America
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Sheila_FW
Apr 30, 2010 11:03 PM CST
The Dallas Lep. Society has a great host plant listing.....if your database if for personal use. http://www.dallasbutterflies.com
Name: Lance Gardner
coastal plain Virginia (Zone 7a)
Question authority, guide in wisdom
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Lance
Sep 16, 2010 8:08 AM CST
Thanks for the informative posts. I am trying Monarchs this year for the first time, with my 7 year old son. We are having fun with it, but I am concerned about parasites. We have lost several already to a tachinid fly, and the caterpillars must have had the parasite before we contained them, as the tank has been covered with cheesecloth and metal screen. We do have several chrysalis's, though.
I am concerned about the little wasp parasites. You mention your preferred type of fabric, which sounds like a sheer type. Do you have any problems with ventilation with such a fine mesh?
I just purchased some butterfly pop up cages that unfortunately have basic screen size mesh. I was hoping they would have done better, as they were not cheap. I might give these away, and just make my own. Or wrap them up with better fabric.
Does anyone have success or failure stories with a larger mesh size, such as basic screens? One of the parasites is supposed to fit through only 1mm holes. How about if I keep them inside the house with a screen door, will that potentially limit losses?
I want to lose as few as possible, as my son really does not like to see them die.
Thanks for suggestions.
Look and listen for the welfare of the whole people and have always in view not only the present but also the coming generations, even those whose faces are yet beneath the surface of the ground -- the unborn of the future Nation. The Constitution of the Iroquois Nations.
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Name: Cat
Edinburg, TX
in the deep south tip of Texas
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TexasPuddyPrint
Sep 18, 2010 4:46 PM CST
Am thinking you could use a large reptarium type cage like those from Apogee - and then put several smaller containers - like those that Sheila or I show in our posts. The mesh on the apogee reptariums is small enough to keep the bigger wasps out but those tachies that can squeeze into 1mm holes - well I'd say to be doubly sure - use several smaller containers with a finer mesh screen inside.

I did have a wasp attack a caterpillar that was crawling on the reptarium mesh - it was able to sting it through the mesh fabric...that's when I decided to put the caterpillars into the plastic containers I make with window replacement nylon screen - and put those containers into the big 22 gallon reptarium.

Other than that...bring your cages inside your house.

~ Cat
My idea of housework is to sweep the room with a glance.

http://community.webshots.com/user/TraylorCatPuddyPrint

Name: Linda
Medina Co., TX (Zone 8a)
Charter ATP Member Salvias Herbs Bluebonnets Native Plants and Wildflowers Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge)
Forum moderator Purslane Hummingbirder Cat Lover Butterflies Birds
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LindaTX8
Sep 18, 2010 9:33 PM CST
When you're lucky, you can spot the eggs. The earlier in the life cycle you find them and protect them, the better chance they have!
I would feel more optimistic about a bright future for man if he spent less time proving that he can outwit Nature and more time tasting her sweetness and respecting her seniority. E. B.White
Integrity can never be taken. It can only be given, and I wasn't going to give it up to these people. Gary Mowad
Name: Lance Gardner
coastal plain Virginia (Zone 7a)
Question authority, guide in wisdom
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Lance
Sep 19, 2010 7:05 AM CST
Thanks everyone. I will try some different things as I get the chance, and see how it goes. I have a huge roll of red sheer fabric (that was being tossed), but still quite breathable, that I may use for extra protection. I think we have 6-7 in a chrysalis now, so we will see how many actually make it to adult.
Look and listen for the welfare of the whole people and have always in view not only the present but also the coming generations, even those whose faces are yet beneath the surface of the ground -- the unborn of the future Nation. The Constitution of the Iroquois Nations.
Dogs; Family Fun Unplugged; Perennials, Annuals, Veggies; Happy Birthday Wishes
Name: Sheila F
Fort Worth TX (Zone 8a)
Charter ATP Member Tip Photographer I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Region: Texas Butterflies Garden Art
Ponds Dog Lover Hummingbirder Birds The WITWIT Badge Region: United States of America
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Sheila_FW
Oct 14, 2010 7:11 AM CST
The last month has been so crazy for me. I didn't realize it had been so long since I logged on here. I have been busy with the Round up (plant swap) I co-host in Arlington. I also got to visit a native butterfly garden Josephine Keeney maintains at historical Fielder House, and then Dale Clarks butterfly farm all that same week.

Welcome to the forum Lance! I see Linda and Cat have answered your question and hopefully gotten you headed in the right direction. The fabric I use will breath fine; it is tricot like a swimsuit lining is made from. However you can purchase the castles with zippers that are about 1 foot square and have one clear side for viewing. http://www.butterfly-release.com/butterfly_castles.htm
Whatever you do have fun…it is a great thing for the kids. When we have failures it just makes me want to try harder to bring them in earlier. I also feel when I have a live release that that is one I saved.
Name: Lance Gardner
coastal plain Virginia (Zone 7a)
Question authority, guide in wisdom
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Lance
Oct 14, 2010 8:30 AM CST
Thanks for the link, those look good. I had good success with a glass tank covered with a fine mesh that I had around - the red stuff I mentioned above. I like the collapsible design for better storing when not in use.
We released 7 monarchs so far, I think it was. We just found one more chrysalis, which I brought inside for final protection. It better emerge soon, before it gets too cold. Lots of fun to watch them emerge, and finally take their first flight. Question: Two of the butterflies had a piece of the chrysalis stuck to them when they emerged. Is this common, or preventable? One we found outside, and one was from our kept ones.
Like this one?
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Look and listen for the welfare of the whole people and have always in view not only the present but also the coming generations, even those whose faces are yet beneath the surface of the ground -- the unborn of the future Nation. The Constitution of the Iroquois Nations.
Dogs; Family Fun Unplugged; Perennials, Annuals, Veggies; Happy Birthday Wishes

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