Monday, September 21, 2015

Surpise monarch predation

Yesterday (Sunday) Shara and I stopped into her classroom to drop off her new classroom pet and to tag and release a couple of Monarch butterflies that had emerged from their chrysalises late on Friday.  When we got into her classroom we could see that something was not right.

There were no Monarchs fluttering in the pop-up habitat.

When we looked inside this is the scene that greeted us.

The destruction at the bottom off the habitat

Discarded wings from a dead Monarch

Every single chrysalis had been pulled from the top of the container and and its contents devoured.  All that remained of the two adult Monarchs was a pile of wings.

What caused this destruction?

Sometime between Friday afternoon and Sunday morning a mouse discovered the enclosure, climbed to the top of the habitat, chewed an entry hole and slipped inside.  After eating every living thing inside, it climbed back out the same entry hole and disappeared.

The total loss was two adult monarchs and about a dozen chrysalises.

It could have been worse.  We still have 10 chrysalises at home in a different container.

Almost every year we lose a few caterpillars/chrysalises to parasites.  Sometimes we have a few that are deformed by a protozoa infection.  Losing almost half of our year's crop of Monarchs to a mouse was something that we never expected.

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