Thursday, April 30, 2009

Life Cycle of a Monarch Butterfly

Most of these pictures are from the brood of caterpillars I raised in March of this year. I released thirteen in our backyard. The fourteenth butterfly fell before it’s wings were dry so I protected it in my butterfly habitat. It lived a week. His name was “ED”.

monarch drinking nectar                     “Ed”ed the butterfly

A female Monarch butterfly drinks nectar from my milkweeds before laying eggs.


The butterfly feels the Milkweed with it’s antennae before laying a egg. Then it touches it’s abdomen to the leaf to release a little egg. Each female monarch can lay 300 to 400 eggs!

small caterpillar

In warm weather it usually takes five days for a Monarch egg to hatch. When they first hatch they are grey with black heads. After a few days it will receive it’s familiar stripes.

edith picture 2

After eating so many leaves the little caterpillar will soon out grow it’s old skin and have to molt. This caterpillar will eat nonstop for two weeks and have to shed it’s skin four times. Most caterpillars increase their weight up to 2,700 times it’s hatchling size.

large caterpillar 1

At the end of two weeks the caterpillar will be two inches long. Now that it has reach its maximum size it will begin to wander in search of a place to make it’s chrysalis. When it has found a suitable place it will use it’s mouth to spin a silk pad to attach it’s chrysalis on.

The caterpillar will stay in it’s chrysalis for eight to fourteen days until it is ready to emerge as a butterfly.

several chrysalises

chrysalis before emerging
Before the butterfly emerges you can see it through the chrysalis. It looks like plastic wrap is covering the butterfly. 


This butterfly just emerged.
butterfly drying wings
opening wings
It’s wings are dry!

best release

I released 13 Monarch butterflies in our backyard. One came back on April 24th to lay eggs on my Milkweeds. Now I get to experience the Monarch life cycle all over again.

If you would like to raise Monarch butterflies all you need is their host plant, Milkweed. I also suggest purchasing a butterfly castle to protect your caterpillars from hungry wasps and other critters. Deforestation from construction has caused the loss of many of the Monarchs laying areas. So planting Milkweeds for Monarchs is important.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Hobbies of the Mann Family

Elizabeth’s Secret Garden 

The little bug on the leaf is actually a ladybug larvae. I just recently learned that ladybugs start out as larvae.ladybug larvae for book  Ladybug larva eating aphid.

When the ladybug larva is big from eating lots of aphids, it will become a pupa. Then finally, it will come out as a ladybug.ladybug pupa for blog           Ladybug Pupa

For aphid control, encourage ladybugs in your yard instead of using harmful pesticides. Sugar water is a great attractor.

Craft Projects

These are a male and female Blue Morpho butterfly. My mom and dad gave them to me for my birthday. They live only in Costa butterfly My sister, Andrea Mann, age 12, drew a picture of the butterflies. God has blessed her with an amazing talent that she continues to develop.Andrea's butterflies

plastic bag 

Knitting is one of my hobbies. My grandma taught my how to knit when I was eight. One day I thought it would be neat to knit with plastic. I made this bag by cutting apart 40 plastic grocery bags into strips, tying the strips together, and then knitting the plastic into a bag. The handles are made from 6 bread bags that I braided.

Mann’s Moments

Our new family sport is bowling. Our dad takes Andrea, Joshua, and I to bowl every Sunday before church.

A bowling

eliz bowlingJ bowling

D bowling

Our friend Bandit

bandit with us

My brother, sister, and I ride Bandit the horse once a week. We get to groom him, clean out his stall, and ride him. We get a lesson once a month.

Mom’s projects

mom with dears

On April 19th I was a deer in the Snow White ballet. My mom made the head pieces for the three deer ballet dancers.

Three fox tails 

My mom also made fox tails for the Snow White performance. She researched foxes and created her own pattern. The owner of the ballet was beside herself when my mom surprised her with the tails. She special ordered the faux fur from Iowa. We had fun playing with them.

deers, fox squirel

All my animal friends are ready for the Snow White performance. We had makeup artists paint our faces to look like animals. Can you pick me out? We also were able to be guests for Snow White Tea, where we gave our autographs along with Snow White.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Spring has Sprung!

    For many, spring is here. If all chances of frosts are gone then you can start your own butterfly garden. You can have a garden anywhere. In the city, country, and even deserts. I have a garden in a big wooden box on wheels!

Elizabeth's garden

    Butterfly gardens should include nectar plants to attract butterflies and host plants for the females to lay their eggs on. Pentas, Milkweeds, Zinnias, Lantana, Black-eyed Susan, and Milkweeds are all great plants for attracting butterflies. Once you have started attracting butterflies to your garden you will need host plants for them to lay eggs on. Each butterfly has a certain plant they only lay eggs on. If their host plant was all destroyed that butterfly would become extinct. For example if all the Milkweeds died so would the Monarchs.

Monarch's host plant Milkweed

Milkweeds at Lukas nursury

These are Tropical Milkweeds. They are the host plant for Monarch caterpillars. Tropical Milkweeds are from Costa Rica, but grow well in Florida because of our warm weather. There are many different species of Milkweeds that Monarch caterpillars will eat. You can go to your local plant nursery to find which Milkweed grows best where you live.

Monarch Laying Eggs


On Friday a Female Monarch butterfly came to visit my garden. After feeling a leaf with it’s antennae to make sure the plant was a Milkweed, it laid an egg. Look inside the red circle to see the egg.

Nature Pictures

While at the horse farm I found a white moth resting on a tree. The moth is shaped like a heart.white moth white orchid
We waited several months for this orchid to get these three new flowers.

Mann’s Moments ( Joshua ) 

joshua with dog We have made many animal friends at the horse farm. Bella the dog is one of them. Joshua was scared of the three dogs at first, but now they are best friends.

My Family Funnies

lizard one  lizard two

Joshua went into the bathroom, but quickly came out yelling, “There’s a HUGE spider in the bathroom”! Apparently Joshua only saw it’s feet on the back side of the shower curtains. My dad was on the phone so that meant my mom had to kill the spider. She hates spiders! Joshua and my mom went crying through the house to the bathroom. When mom went to investigate She discovered it was only a friendly lizard not a vicious spider. Oh, the joys of living in Florida.

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