We have had northern leopard frogs hanging around our yard for the past couple summers. Last year we had our backyard pond filled and they lived there. This summer we had to empty it for the safety of our 1 year old son, but they are still around in the bottom of the pond where it fills with rain water and also in the longer grass near the gardens. The girls found one yesterday swimming in our kiddie pool. We caught him and made a home for him in a critter cage we purchased, used, a few weekends ago (just in case we found a critter of course!) We had to go buy some crickets for him at the pet store until we can find a more sustainable way to feed him. I figured out that it will cost us around $80 to buy crickets for him all year. I am not going to do that. I'd rather let him go, than spend that kind of money on a wild-caught pet.
We have to do some research about the types of insects he'll eat and how to catch them. Here's some pictures of the last 2 summers.
We had one of four cocoons hatch out. It was a female. She attracted Males from all over. Some of them died after their long flight as you can see in the photos. The Males will fly up to 7 miles in order to mate with a female whose pheromones are put off from about 10 pm to 4 am. They smell her and they come. We had about 5 come and 3 were found dead around our butterfly net. Two males lived and we placed one in the net to mate with her. She laid eggs and lots of baby caterpillars hatched out about 3 weeks later. See caterpillars below.
This afternoon after church we were getting ready to lay out some hard wheat berries to try and grow wheat grass for juice and smoothies. Apparently it's nutrient rich. So we're trying it. When I went into our mudroom to find a tray I found that four of our Black swallowtail butterflies hatched out, maybe sometime in the night. Our friend from church told us to let them out at night so the birds wouldn't eat them right away. I forgot about that until after we released 3. Oh well. At least we have some more pollinators in our neighborhood now! Last summer we had a Antheraea Polyphemus cocoon and when she hatched out she attracted several males and mated, laid eggs and we had about 100 baby caterpillars from her. So I am thinking that might be a possibility with these butterflies as well. I should have kept them over night in our net. We have 6 more to go so I'll give our entomologist friend a call and find out if they'll mate in captivity. I learned the hard way last summer to keep them fed and cleaned more often because we lost quite a few to disease. This year we were more vigilant and it's paid off. So exciting to see them go through almost a complete life cycle! The Photos of the chrysalis are either right before they hatched out or afterwards, when it's empty. We noticed how it changed color right before they were going to hatch out. Before they were that bright green color(as seen in previous post) now they are more brown and translucent.
I was enjoying our back yard today and noticing the beauty of God's creation. It's amazing to me that there are so many details we miss if we don't stop to look more closely at the little things around us. From the fuzzy seed pods and the powdery, yellow pollen, to the intricate design of each small flower, God is declaring his Glory. Sadly, we are often to busy to bask in His fullness. It's wonderful to participate in nature study and to observe carefully, because when we do that there is so much to learn about how the world works and how each part has a purpose and a special design. Oh, H
This is a clip from our Rocky Mountain National Park vacation. She's taking it all in!
We were able to observe the elk fairly close. What an honor to see such beautiful creatures. Apparently they are overpopulated in the RMNP because their natural predators, Grizzlys and wolves are no longer in the park.
July 26- August 4
10 Black swallowtail caterpillars collected, fed dill weed. They like the tender yellow flowers the best. They spit yellow when disturbed. about 1 1/2 cm when found. About 1 1/2 -2 inches when changing into chrysalis. They change colors as they grow larger. One egg hatched out in our tank and so we got to observe the color change from complete black to striped green, black, with yellow spots.
Chrysalis colors range from light green with yellow spots to splotchy brown. We are wondering if these are variations of the type of butterfly, difference between genders, or just camouflage as they mostly match their stick that they are hanging on. But not consistently enough for us to tell for sure.
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