Friday, October 16, 2015

Separate monarch-related post, Google beacon MLMP 2519 OCT

"MLMP 2519"

If you have used Google to search that term inside quotation marks, this blog post should be right up at the top of your search as an exact match.  The second should be the site number 2519 on the Monarch Larva Monitoring Project's website.  Why? Because...

Right now I have 3 very late straggler monarch larvae that pupated in the first week of October, meaning that when they emerge as adults, it'll likely be close to November and the big monarch migration will be over.  An expert tells me they won't make it through the winter because of their late start--at least, they won't make it to Mexico.  Purchasing Monarch Watch tags for this year is out of the question according to the website of THOSE folks, so I've made my own tags out of repurposed plastic produce labels which I've chemically wiped clean, and with acetate-capable india ink, inscribed "MLMP 2519" on each of 3 such tags.

When the monarchs emerge, I will tag each one with one tag each, but if you're reading this because you have recovered one of my butterflies, there's something else you should know, too--the tags are tint coded, too.  The number in black ink indicates point of origin, but the tint identifies the individual.  Individual number 1 died, so there is no brown-tinted tag, but individual number 2 will sport a red-tinted (rose?) tag, individual number 3 will sport the orange-tinted tag, and the last individual will be wearing plain white.

When they emerge, get tagged, and get released, I'll post pictures here.  I have my email in the header of this blog so you can contact me if you catch one of my kids, but know ye that the color tint of the tag is just as important as the number.  Thank you.

Larvae 1 and 3 pupated first; 1 was a casualty. This is 3 and when it emerges, will get the orange-tinted wing tag.
In order from front to back (or right to left if you're counting 1 dimensional placement--don't do left to right, that would be wrong) pupa number 2, which will get the rosy tinted tag, and pupa number 4, which will get the white tag.
Below is a shot of the stickers I described, but the swirly background came about by my chemically wiping the original stickers, which were sitting atop other stickers salvaged from purchased produce, so it got a bit messy.  India ink is supposed to adhere to plastic, but you can see here that it looks chipped in places, so I might have to re-do that.  And then again I might not. We'll see when the time comes.

Monday Monarch UPDATE: pupa 3 has just completed pupation as of 10:15 this morning, and it looks like it's a girl!

I can now confirm with certainty that this one is a female. And it gets the orange wing tag.

Here she is this afternoon, tagged and ready for take-off:

Change of tag plans for larva 2, and it's because of a tagging complication I encountered. They're all girls except this one, and it was the last to emerge an adult, and it just didn't like the tag.  Wing tags didn't bother the girls, they went ahead and figured out  that flying stuff, but this guy just didn't even want to try.  He sat on a stalk of tall phlox like a bump on a log for hours. Released him in the morning and by mid afternoon, he hadn't budged from the spot.

I took him back in and verrrrrrrrrry verrrrrrrry carefully used the tip of a sewing needle to gently remove the wing tag--which took nearly all of the colorful wing scales with it--and I just took a Sharpie to write "2519" on the bald spot where the sticker  had been.  Miracles of miracles, he then decided he could figure out how to fly after all.

My youngest (larva 4) matured before this guy did even though he turned pupa before the youngest did. The youngest didn't play by any of the rules set forth for how monarchs are supposed to go through their assigned stages, and zoomed through the process at a remarkably rapid pace.  Here she is, perched on my pecan-stained finger:

Here's what Mr. Slowpoke looked like last night. The youngest was already out of her chrysalis (that dangly thing on your left) and I thought his emergence was battery pooped out before he emerged, so I didn't catch it on video despite best efforts.  He's still quite a dark handsome thing in this form, though...

Now here's a pic of Little Miss Get 'Er Done Yesterday next to Mr. Slow As Cold Molasses:

October 26 UPDATE: Finalized the images of monarchs in various stages to put on a calendar, folks.  Also usable for greeting cards.  Now I need to find a reasonably priced printer to do the job.

mini-UPDATE, printer edition: Decided on PDQ Printing, and though the cost of producing calendars proved out of the question (for now) greeting cards are being printed up as I write this update. WOOT!

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