Friday, July 22, 2011

Blue Things

What in the world are those blue things doing in Archie's Garden? Here are some hints:
  • They are made of a mesh that lets in light, air, and water.
  • They have a milkweed plants inside them.
  • They can be moved from one place to another, but are also easily staked down.
Figured it out? These are Archie's advanced SWAPDECs (that stands for "Secure Wasp And Predator Defense / Evasion Containers" -- Archie likes making up funny acronyms). We install them around a milkweed plant if we see a few monarch eggs or caterpillars. It protects the eggs and caterpillars from being eaten by predators like the wasps or ladybugs that we've seen.

What we hope is that the caterpillars will be able to develop safely in these protective environments. They can probably pupate right inside of the contained areas -- we will just have to keep a close watch so that we can let the butterflies go free when they emerge.

The mesh on these is not particularly fine. Wasps, ladybugs, and other predators could probably squeeze in through the openings in the mesh, but it seems that they don't recognize that there is anything inside that would interest them.

We will continue to experiment with SWAPDECs and other ways of protecting the caterpillars. We'll report our results here, so stay tuned!

Sunday, July 10, 2011


 Remember back at the end of May, when we saw a picture of milkweed that had been eaten almost completely by caterpillars? Remember how we wondered if any of the plants would survive?
Well, here we are part way through July. Here's a picture of that same pot. Some of the eaten milkweed looks just like it did in May - a green stick with no leaves. There's at least one of the plants that put out new leaves, and is slowly recovering. There are several new sprouts, plus a volunteer plant that's not milkweed.
Maybe we'll check in on this pot again in another few months to see how things turn out.

Meanwhile, some of the other milkweed plants have produced seed pods. Some of the pods have opened up, and are releasing seeds into the wind. If you want some milkweed seeds for your own garden, come on by (or send us an email), and we'll give you some!