It's been a long time, but that doesn't mean nothing is happening -- just that things are winding down. Most of our monarchs left, and joined others that were passing through from further north, a few weeks ago. I did have a couple of stragglers that were progressing just fine and then stalled out when the weather temporarily turned cold. To encourage them to finish up and get out of here during this nice week, over the weekend, I warmed up their enclosure by setting it on one of our steam radiators, which has a metal cover over it, and I also put a wooden cutting board on top so the heat was less direct. This worked, and one male and one female monarch came out and were then ready to fly away on Tuesday:
(male, left, and female, right)
(female, above, male, below)
And they're off!
The one egg that Marilyn found long after any others also encountered difficulties with the cold snap. Even before then, the caterpillar wasn't progressing well in her cool, dark dining room -- we've entered a time of year when it can be a lot warmer outside in the sun. Sarah has a great outdoor set-up, so she continued raising it at her house. It went into its chrysalis yesterday. If it stayed here, it would come out two or even three weeks from now, which would be very late and possibly during another cold spell. So, Marilyn was relieved when she did find someone in Texas with a USDA permit to receive it, after initially striking out. Marilyn packaged it carefully and sent it via UPS on Thursday. When the butterfly comes out (NOT in the box), it will have a big head start on its trip to Mexico. Next year, Marilyn might apply for a permit herself. Either the sender or the receiver has to have one, but it doesn't have to be both. That would allow Marilyn to legally send any late chrysalises to anyone south who is willing to accept them. One of the best things in the garden lately is these asters:
(Also, you can see pollen all over this bumblebee's butt.)
When Marilyn first planted it, it was one plant near where the monarch waystation sign is. Both last year and this year, Marilyn thought it had died because she didn't see it at all. But then in recent weeks, she saw it -- as several plants all through half of the butterfly garden, from the sign to the ComEd fence. It has just spread and traveled where it wants to go. Besides the zinnias and Mexican sunflowers that are still hanging in there, it's the last thing blooming heavily, so it's very important for the bees and any remaining butterflies and other pollinators.
Finally, here's a photo where Marilyn managed to get in almost the entire butterfly garden at once:
When Marilyn saw it like this, she suddenly realized how neon or candy-colored it is this year. It's a little different every time, and this year's unintentional theme was "bright."