How to Raise Monarchs

In recent years, Monarch butterfly populations have been on the decline. This is a result of habitat loss due to pesticide use and deforestation, parasites crippling populations, and life cycle changes due to climate change. You can help keep these beloved pollinators safe and happy by rearing butterflies in a safe area free of predators, or by planting native wildflowers in your garden.

When raising butterflies there are three main tenants to follow:

  1. Replicate natural conditions as much as possible
  2. Handle the butterflies and caterpillars as little as possible
  3. Release the hatched butterflies as soon as possible

How to set up a box:

For this, any clear plastic box works. You need to poke small holes onto the top of the box so the caterpillars can breathe. Leave a damp paper towel at the bottom of the box and replace it when the box gets dirty (for example from caterpillar poop). Place the milkweed leaves on top of the paper towels and make sure to add more if the leaves ever run low (caterpillars eat A LOT).

The caterpillars will crawl to the top of the box when they are ready to form a cocoon. Beware of caterpillars that reach this stage at the same time because they will sometimes start fighting for their favorite spot. If this happens, just be sure to separate them.

Milkweed

Monarchs only lay eggs on milkweed because the plant contains all the necessary nutrient for their growth. Additionally, caterpillars eat milkweed because the plant creates a toxic latex that then makes the fully-grown butterfly poisonous to predators. The fully-grown butterflies also can rely on the milkweed flowers for nectar!

Three common types of milkweed are Common milkweed (A. syriaca), Swamp milkweed (A. incarnata), and Butterfly weed (A. tuberosa).
Monarchs seem to most prefer Common milkweed and Swamp milkweed because their leaves are softer than that of Butterfly weed. However, between the two, Swamp milkweed is more ornamental and less invasive so you may prefer to use that in your garden.

Some people suggest to cut back the milkweed in June so that the new-grown leaves are fresh and soft for butterfly reproduction in the July.

Monarch reproduction peaks in late summer. You’ll be able to start collecting eggs off of the Milkweed in July, and you’ll likely keep finding them until mid-August.

Butterfly Garden

You can plant milkweed alongside asters, black-eyes susans, blazing stars, snapdragons, zinnias, goldenrod, lavendar, and lilac and hollyhock to create a beautiful butterfly garden.

Egg to Caterpillar

In this picture you can see the progression of the butterfly egg into a large caterpillar. It takes about 4 days for the egg to hatch and then it stays in the caterpillar stage for about 10 to 14 days.

Chrysalis to Butterfly

The Chrysalis phase lasts for about 8 to 15 days. During the last few days you can see the orange and black colors of the butterfly wings in the Chrysalis. As the butterfly emerges, it pumps liquid into its wings. The butterfly will hang upside down as the fluid is dispersed and as the wings dry off. Do not try to release or move the butterfly until its wings are dry. You can tell the butterfly is ready when it starts moving around the box.

Identifying Butterfly Gender

→ Male butterflies (on the right) have thinner black veins and they have small matching spots on their lower wings.
→ Female butterflies (on the left) have thicker black veins and no spots.


Releasing the Butterfly

Sometimes when you release the butterfly, it will fly off by itself as soon as you open the box. Other times it will cling onto the lid. In those moments, you can put your finger near the butterfly’s legs and lift it up with your finger, and then deposit it on the nearest plant. Be sure to NEVER touch the butterfly’s wings! Their wings are incredibly delicate, and any touch can debilitate the butterfly for life.

Our Flowers: Purple Coneflowers

Echinacea puerperia are commonly referred to as purple coneflowers. They are one of the most easy-growing native plants in our garden. It attracts bees, butterflies and golden finches. It is a great pollinator plant; if you would like to attract bees to your garden I highly recommend planting this. Just be sure to plant it in a sunny spot. The blooming season is mid-summer to fall.

Any seeds that are not eaten will fall to the ground and germinate in the following year, but most of the seeds are eaten by birds (the golden finches). So every year we will get few additional plants just from the seeds dropped from last year’s plants.

How To Make Spilled Flower Pot Within Another Pot

We love making spilled flower pots in our garden and have been doing it for the past few years. They definitely bring great joy to the entire season. This is a little spin on the spilled flower pot concept to make it more inclusive!

I usually setup the spilled pot in a corner of our garden, but this time I made it little differently. I put the spilled pot inside of a larger pot. It is a good option for people living in apartments or setting up the spilled pot on the ground isn’t always possible. This way the spilled pot is accessible to everyone! Spilled pots are amazingly cute and add a flair to your garden that you can feel proud of every time you look at it.

Small flowers are more suitable for this kind of spilled flower pot. I added lobelia plants, since their flowers are so cute and bright. Tiny varieties of petunia are also a great choice for this kind of spilled flower pot. You can add as many little details as you would like to this creation. I added a little fairy in it at the end, and it looks so beautiful.

Things I Used

  • 6″ tall and 18″ wide pot ——— 1
  • 4″tall and 4″ wide pot ———— 1
  • Lobelia plant pack —————— 4
  • Garden soil

How To Make?

  • Fill the bigger pot with garden soil
  • In one corner of the pot, slightly move the soil and place the smaller pot
  • Arrange the lobelia plants like spilled around the pot
  • If you want, add a fairy or other decorative items as you like

Chickpea/Chana Sundal

This is one of my favorite healthy snacks to make and eat. Usually I make this for evening snack with a cup of tea. It is simple to make and only requires a few ingredients. This dish is called as Sundal in Tamil. During my childhood, sundal with chukku coffee used to be the traditional snack served to the people coming for Christmas carols at home.

In this recipe, I have used white chana (chickpea), but you can also use black chana. If you don’t want to go through the process of soaking the dried chickpea, you should able to use the regular canned chickpeas as well.

Ingredients

  • Dry Chana ———————- 2 cups
  • Salt to taste
  • For Tempering
    • Coconut oil ————- 1 tbsp
    • Mustard seeds ——– 1/2 tsp
    • Dry chilies ————— 2-3
    • Curry leaves ———— 4 springs
  • For Seasoning
    • Grated coconut ——- 1/2 cup

How To Make

  • Soak the chana overnight or at least 6 hours
  • Drain the soaked water and rinse once
  • Now add two cups of water and salt in a pressure cooker and cook it for about 20 minutes in medium heat
  • Turn off the stove and wait for the pressure cooker to cool down
  • Now open the cooker lid and drain the extra water
  • Heat the oil in a pan and do the tempering using the ingredients for tempering
  • Now add the cooked chana and mix it
  • Then add the grated coconut or thin coconut pieces
  • Mix all together and turn off the stove
  • Now enjoy the sundal

Simple Lace Scarf

This is one of the projects, that I had in my to do list for a long time, finally I made it. It is a simple and beautiful pattern to make, just repeat of four rows and one of my friends gave me the pattern, there is no pattern name or information about the author on it.

To make this scarf, I have used two balls of “Red Heart Unforgettable” yarn, the color of the yarn is Dragonfly and I used circular needle of size US-7 .

Here is the pattern

Cast on 54 sts
knit 6 rows
Beginning pattern
Row 1 (RS): K3, *(skpo) twice, (yo, k1) 4 times, (skpo) twice, rep from * to last 3 sts, K3
Row 2: K3, purl to last 3 sts, k3
Row 3: Knit
Row 4: K3, p to last 3 sts, k3
These 4 rows form pattern
Continue in pattern until about 60″ from beginning, ending with row 4
Knit 5 rows
Bind of loosely knitwise

Liver Stir- Fry

One of my close friend’s mom gave me this recipe and I make it once in a while. It only takes a little bit of time to make, but it always taste very good. This recipe is made with goat liver, which may not sound appealing at first, but give it a try and hopefully you’ll be pleasantly surprised. We usually get the goat liver from Indian grocery store. It goes very well with rice.

Ingredients

  • Goat liver ———————— 1 lb
  • Onion —————————— 1 (diced)
  • Tomato ————————— 1 (diced)
  • Minced ginger —————– 1 tbsp
  • Minced garlic —————— 1 tbsp
  • Indian chili powder ——- 1/2 tsp
  • Turmeric powder ———— 1/2 tsp
  • Coriander powder ———- 1 tsp
  • Garam masala —————- 1/2 tsp
  • Salt to taste
  • For Tempering
    • Cooking oil ————— 1 tbsp
    • Cumin seeds ———— 1/2 tsp
    • Curry leaves ————– 3 to 4 springs

How To make

  • Dice the liver into small pieces and wash it well
  • Heat the oil in a pan and do the tempering with the ingredients listed for tempering
  • Now add the diced onion, minced ginger & garlic and stir fry until the onion becomes soft
  • Now add the diced tomato and cook until the tomato is cooked well
  • Then add the diced liver, chili powder, turmeric powder, garam masala, coriander powder and salt
  • Mix it all well and close the pan with a lid and cook it about 20 minutes (occasionally open and stir it)
  • Turn off the stove and enjoy the liver stir fry

Our Flowers: Royal candle Plant

The royal candle plant will give a great look in any garden. The royal candles (Royal Candles Speedwell) is an outstanding upright growing plant with large, attractive deep-green leaves and long blooming spikes with deep purple-blue flowers.
These flowers are very beautiful and highly attractive to bees, they love this plant. The blooming season is summer to fall.

We bought this plant few years back from Lowes and still it grows back every year. It is easy to grow, so if you would like to add a perennial plant in your garden this year, this one would be one of the best perennial plant choices.

 

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