We've had a number of pupae turn brown suddenly, and apparently die. It's not the normal darkening that happens just before the butterfly emerges - it's sometimes streaked brown, or sometimes solid brown. We're not sure if this is caused by disease or by some kind of parasite. Many of these darkened pupae have holes in them that might support the parasite theory. It could also be that a very cold night kills the pupa, and the discoloration happens later.
Despite the heat and the cold, we're still having Monarchs make it all the way from egg to butterfly. It has been nice and sunny today, and we had a butterfly emerge today. She had pupated in the back yard in the first week of January. The pictures below are of her and her journey to the front garden.
|Relocating on Gooseplant|
|Stare into my eyes...|
We were expecting the Winter to be a much slower month for the butterflies. We have heard different things about Monarchs migrating in Southern California, but we expected them to migrate away or at least stop laying eggs until Springtime. We were wrong! Because we still have so many caterpillars, some of the milkweed has not recovered from the last generations.
Several of the milkweed plants appear to be weakened or ailing, and the orange milkweed aphids are infesting them in great number. Since we know there will be a lot more caterpillars coming once the weather really warms up, we're putting milkweed production into high gear!