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Butterflies in the Garden and Elsewhere

Jane Stroud, Loving Garland Green Board Officer, with students from North Garland High School Key Club releasing butterflies - August 31, 2015.  Jane is removing the cloth cover from the mesh laundry basket, habitat for the pupas.  Mesh laundry baskets

Some Gulf Fritillaries are eager to become.  Such was the case for the two that we rescued on August 19 from the backyard passion flower vine of one of our members, Jane Stroud.  The time span from the Gulf Fritillary pupa to the eclose of a mature butterfly varies from 11 to 21 days. I was hoping these two pupas would yield mature butterflies on the 1st or 2nd of September.  In fact, I had already prepared a habitat for the pupas that included a small nectar plant.

Note:  If you are preparing a terrarium as a habitat for a pupa for school children, it's a good idea to include a nectar plant in case the butterfly ecloses over the weekend.  Most butterflies can go 24 hours after emerging but it's best to have a nectar plant handy for their first meal.  I obtain large clear vases from thrift stores, put moistened perlite in bottom and then a little soil from a nectar potted plant (4-inch pot size).  Pentas are good choices for this purpose.  Screen netting is good for the top.  If you like you can attach the pupas using thread to the screen and let them hang down, or you can attach them to a stick and place in the terrarium.

Members of Loving Garland Green had planned to give the pupas in their habitat to members of the North Garland High School Key Club tonight at our meeting as a token of our appreciation for all the work they did in the Garland Community Garden on Saturday and also to encourage them to move forward with their plans to create a butterfly habitat at their school.  However, when I went into the bedroom tonight where I had the pupas stored in a laundry basket, they were pupas no more.  In their place, two lovely Gulf Fritillary butterflies.  We let them dry their wings while we had our meeting.  Then, after the meeting we took them out to my front yard where we released them.  One flew away, possibly to Timbuktu.  However, the smarter of the two hung around for about 15 minutes to take full advantage of the nectar flowers in my yard.  This gave the students the opportunity to see the butterfly use its proboscis to slurp up the nectar.

Providing a protective habitat for butterfly caterpillars and pupas helps to ensure a needed population of pollinators.  It is estimated that less than 5% of caterpillars and pupas in the wild make it to become a mature butterfly.  Ants and wasps are their most avid predators.  Thus capturing eggs, caterpillars and pupas and then releasing them as mature butterflies helps us all.

Members of the North Garland High School Key Club watch as the first butterfly takes off.  Fortunately one of the two butterflies lingered in the garden for about 10 or 15 minutes and we were able to watch it use its proboscis to suck nectar from the nearby flowers.

[The Gulf Fritillary does not overwinter in North Texas.  These butterflies prefer southern Texas and Florida.]

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One of two habitats for Gulf Fritillary butterflies--to be delivered tomorrow to Beaver Technology Center and Watson Technology Center (two pupas in each habitat).

 

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This Thursday a Loving Garland Green committee will be meeting with members of the North Garland Key Club and school officials to assess the proposed location for the school's butterfly garden.  Then, next Friday, Charlie Bevilacqua will be teaching students at the North Garland High School how to make some special treats to be given to our community's firemen on 9/11.

 

 

Tuesday, September 1, 2015