Melanie's back with a new laptop! Took me a while to get it set up to my liking. Basically, I had to make it look like old Windows, instead of Windows 10.
I have a few pictures to share from Sunday, but not many because I was there early, it was dark, and it was COLD! In fact, it's still cold. But we're supposed to hit 70 tomorrow. In related news, I will be at MOSI tomorrow because the boss wanted a day off and I was like, "I don't know, the "Deadpool" movie is coming out, but I guess I could wait to see it next week."
In bad news, Trump will be giving a speech directly across the street at USF. Luckily, his speech is at 7pm but even regular traffic around USF is horrific, so again, I plan to be there very early and sneak in and out like a ninja! Thank goodness there's a Starbucks up the street. Mine is closed for an entire week for renovations and I'm jonesing hard.
Okay, pictures! Well, the ladies must have gone to the farm because when I flipped on the light there were all these Polydamas waiting for me. Since the last four Polydamas cats we had died last week and I cleaned out their tank, I knew these didn't come from our garden. Also, they should be overwintering. It probably doesn't help that they had the heat cranked up to about 80 in the lab. Oh, pictures look weird due to lack of actual sunlight and interference from heat lamp.
We still have Malachites, too. This one had something wrong with it. It leaked on me. More on that in a minute.
This Zebra Longwing was ready to be released. That's a chrysalis box. As you can see, we pin the chrysalis to styrofoam on the top. This one must have been pinned when he was still in his J because you can see the shed skin at the bottom.
I went out to pick some Oleander and I was kind of looking for caterpillars when one found me, instead! That's the arm of my jacket, FYI. I guess the caterpillar was cold, too. By the way, people often underestimate how fast caterpillars can move, but if you've ever seen one in its wandering phase, maybe you have an idea. But these Spotted Oleander cats move like that all the time. They are seriously fast. Oh, and they're also one of those caterpillars whose main defense is to fall off the plant. Seriously, cats will just fall to the ground in order to avoid predators. They crawl back up later, I presume. This one just had the good sense to fall on me! All caterpillars should be so smart - just fall into Melanie's loving arms.
Here's a Monarch and a Malachite. I did not realize when I took this picture that the Monarch was on the outside of the flight cage.
I went and got the net and caught it later. I'm the butterfly wrangler!
The way these Malachites were sitting, I was having a hard time figuring out if it was one or two butterflies. It's two.
Hmm...my photos are uploading faster. I guess that's a good sign.
Okay, now for the educational part of the post. Butterflies excrete liquids and sometimes that's good and sometimes it's not. Example - the Malachite I was handling earlier in the post left some green liquid on me. I think it came out of the wings but it could have been the body. That was hemolymph which is like simplified blood. So that's bad. Liquid should not be coming out of the veins on the wings or their bodies. (Exception, I once saw a Zebra Swallowtail "poop" on my brother when I was about 10. It was like a clear gel. I've never seen a butterfly do that again. FYI, a butterfly pooping on my brother is like a metaphor for his whole life.)
Okay, but one liquid is supposed to come out and that's called meconium. In humans, it refers to the first bowel movement a baby makes, and it can be really bad if they do it while still in the womb and they breathe it in. Butterflies don't have this problem. After they pump their wings, they will squirt the excess fluids out. If you handle them during this time, they are likely to squirt you. I don't think it effects them drying their wings because hemolymph and meconium are two different fluids. It looks pretty freaky, though, because most of the time it is somewhere between red and brown in color. (Sulphurs are sometimes yellow, though). People think it's blood and I have to tell them it's waste fluid. Or like I tell the kids, "There's no bathroom inside a chrysalis so they have to hold it the whole time!"
Here's a lid where we had two Polydamas pinned (we're running low on boxes so it's double occupancy). That reddish fluid came out of the chrysalis but it is totally normal. So don't freak out if you raise butterflies or moths and see this. They squirt it out of the hole in their abdomen (where they also lay eggs or give sperm) so if you see it happen, it's totally normal and you have not killed your butterfly.
Here's the bottom of one of the chrysalis boxes where you can see how the fluid dried up and there's also a bit of chrysalis there. Guess who gets to clean all the boxes after she releases the butterflies? That's right - ME! That's why when people tell us folks at MOSI how "magical" and "beautiful" our job is, all we can think of is cleaning up after caterpillars and butterflies. So much cleaning! But like I always say, "A clean lab is a healthy lab!"