Latitude 17N

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Butterfly release...

Well, it was time for the butterflies to be released into the wild. It was in the 70s this afternoon so we figured it was as good a time as any to let them go. They had gotten pretty rambunctious in the last couple of days and were pretty excited to get out of that habitat. Most of them flew out willingly leaving only a few that had to be coaxed out. They might hang around for a few days and then go wherever they go.

Thursday, January 22, 2009


Julian's butterflies have started hatching from their cocoons. Five down and five to go. The red stuff that you see on the paper disk is not blood. It is meconium which is the leftover color and tissue from the wing formation. Interesting stuff. We are going to nurse them with sugar water for a couple of days and then, weather permitting, set them free.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Julian's farm

For Christmas, Julian received an ant farm and a butterfly pavilion. Added to his current pet, he now has approximately 28 pets! Shortly after Christmas he received his caterpillars in the mail. There were two jars, pictured above, with 5 caterpillars each. They come with a brown gunk in the bottom of the jar which is the food that they will eat and fatten up on. After about a week the caterpillars had fattened up and crawled up to the top of the jar where they attached themselves to a little paper disc at the top and cocooned up. It was weird to watch this process. They would attach to the top and then you would see them swing wildly at the top for a while. I guess this motion somehow helps the cocoon process. It was very strange to watch. After that they hang quietly. Then we took the disc out and pinned it into the mesh "pavilion." They are still in their metamorphosis and waiting to "hatch." Shortly after he got the caterpillars, the ants arrived. There were 18 or so ants in a vial. They are harvester ants, which bite, so we had to be careful getting them in the farm. His particular farm is one that was developed by NASA to study how ants work in zero gravity. They developed a gel that would keep them from being crushed when leaving and entering the atmosphere. His ants have been very diligent and have dug many tunnels and work spaces. Julian likes to watch them work and "socialize." At one point, shortly after we put them in, he thought they were having a meeting because they were all huddled together. They do this from time to time, and he also thinks they are trying to keep warm with each other all "huddled up.". The ants will live for approximately 2-3 months and then he can catch his own ants and start over if he wants. Once the butterflies hatch we will wait for a nice day and set them free. His fish, a Beta named Rocky--named after the great Mr. Balboa--is a hurricane survivor. He was left at home during Gustav to "hold down the fort" with a 7-day feeder tablet. He lived without electricity for 10 or so days. Julian says, "he is a survivor, I guess I picked the right name." Haha.