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!

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