Wonder where we’ve been lately? We’ve been overrun with insects! Really, that isn’t as bad as it sounds – we are loving it!
Since the butterfly post a month ago, we have had butterfly eggs which we were able to hatch and raise; reaching almost 50 butterflies! Those have been busy laying eggs of their own and now we have another batch of caterpillars coming up – as well as eggs out the ears!
In addition to the butterflies, we had ordered some mantis egg cases. Perhaps you remember from the last post that I thought we had 4 to 6 weeks before they hatched. In reality, they started hatching that same day. I looked into the little shipping cup they came in, just to make sure nothing was going on and I was greeted my an army of little eyes and limbs. I am thinking that our warmer temperatures might have played a part in the early arrival of these little guys. After I set up the butterfly habitat, I found a container to temporarily house the mantises in. Then I went out to our compost container (the city recycles old and broken refuse containers into compost bins – very cool!) with a large zip-loc bag in hand and I started waving it around like mad to catch fruit flies. This must have been a sight to see. The kids and spouse gave me some pretty strange looks. I managed to capture a whole slew of the tiny bugs though! I popped them in the freezer for a few seconds to calm them down and then dropped them into the mantis box. The hungry little mantises grabbed them right out of the air once they began flying around again. Watching a mantis stalk and kill its prey is really quite amazing! After a week or two of observation, we ended up letting a majority of the little mantises go free in the yard. We kept a handful to watch, but, since they can be cannibalistic, we are down to a single, happy, large mantis.
In that last post, I also mentioned silkworms. We ordered 100 medium sized worms, and a whole bunch of eggs. Silkworms are not really worms, they are caterpillars. They are really pretty neat to see and feel. Quite soft and surprisingly warm feeling. Several of the large “worms” ended up as frog and turtle food. Silkworms are a great way to add variety to the diets of reptiles and amphibians. We fed the silkworms an artificial Mulberry diet and supplemented with leaves from the one Mulberry tree that we have access to. With the first batch of half-grown silkworms that we ordered, feeding them was not too much of a chore. When the eggs hatched and we had over a thousand to feed, it got a little crazy (and expensive)! Not all of the tiny worms survived, about 500 made it to cocoon stage. Now those are emerging from their cocoons and setting us up with an ever increasing supply of fresh eggs!
Do you have any odd or interesting “pets” in your home?