Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Finally - more monarch eggs

So far this year, we've raised only eight monarchs, and we've seen only one or two adult butterflies (except our own that we released).

Finally, today I saw a monarch butterfly and I discovered ten eggs!

This year, every egg is more precious than ever since there have been so few monarchs not just here in Central New York, but elsewhere in the country. I'm tightening up my method for raising them. I'm going to keep no more than ten eggs / caterpillars -- collected the same day -- together in one container to minimize the chances of spreading any disease such as Oe.

The sad fact is that this makes a total of 18 monarchs (assuming they'll all make it to butterflyhood) this year; last year at this time we had 45.

There have been similar or even greater declines in our black swallowtails, American lady, and other butterflies. In fact, we haven't seen many butterflies of any kind very often.

Saturday, July 02, 2011

Bumblebee nest discovered

As I was walking up our front sidewalk, I noticed some bumblebees buzzing around, but there weren't any flowers in the immediate vicinity.

On closer look, I noticed them entering the ground. I found a bumblebee nest! I'm sure there's more than one in our yard since we have lots of bumblebees and lots of great places for them to nest--in other words, some bare ground, so scarce in suburbs with mostly lawn and asphalt.

What was interesting was that there were two entrances, about 6 inches apart.

The bumblebee in the photo is carrying some of his pollen/nectar mix on his legs. It will be used to feed the young bees as the colony gets larger and larger.

There's actually quite a high failure rate, and if they fail, I guess that means that the colony ends up producing no queens for next year. I don't know whether the queen of a failed colony can start a new nest midway through the summer.

I'm going to refrain from weeding in this area and hope to see some beautiful queens produced by fall!