I realize I left you on a cliffhanger of sorts in regards to the fate of the monarch butterflies, patient reader. (If you would like to start from the beginning, go here)
I am afraid it’s because I was hoping to bring you good news. And as it has been almost three months, as you may have guessed, there isn’t a happily ever after for this tale. But! I will tell you how my journey concluded so you can have some closure, and maybe I will find some too.
When we last left our brave lepidopterans, I was very excited to have eggs hatching and infant caterpillars eating their little hearts out. I just had to keep them alive and safe from the cute but deadly assistance of my children and not-so-innocent attentions of the kittens. However, something I didn’t realize about tiny, infant caterpillars: they are SNEAKY and seemingly hell bent on escaping to their deaths. I had to upgrade my caterpillar nursery game like whoa.
Even with the improvements, I had to check on the tiny ninjas daily. While initially a good idea, this was my first big mistake. Doing so meant a lot of activity that attracted the attention of my daughter who therefore insisted on being a part of the caterpillar-tending process.
Out of desperation to stop the whining Because I believe in including my children in household responsibilities, I assigned her the task of holding the milkweed pieces while I cleaned the tray. At this juncture, a caterpillar had the unfortunate luck of falling off its leaf and landing on the floor where it wasn’t seen and therefore promptly smooshed by an unknowing kids 10 shoe. My daughter was really upset about it, but hey, we have three more caterpillars eating milkweed in the Jungle and about 8 more in the nursery. We have plenty!
I should have knocked wood or thrown salt or something, because almost immediately the nursery just… went kaput. I can’t be sure exactly how this happened, but the current theory is the opening and closing of the lid introduced a lot of dry air. I tried to compensate with more moisture, but no matter my efforts, I ended up with some desiccated caterpillars and others mushy messes. It was gross. And sad. Cue my turn to be really upset and my daughter to comfort ME.
Alrighty, three caterpillars in the Jungle, we are counting on you!
My spirits soared when the largest caterpillar climbed the side of the enclosure, looking for a spot to hang and go into chrysalis-mode. I obsessively checked on it. Daily. Hourly. You know when it finally happened? Overnight, while I was asleep. Of course.
I was so proud, one chrysalis and two caterpillars happily munching away. *beams* What could go wrong?