The Sanctuary Is A Resounding Success!

I have to say the Monarch Sanctuary is working even better than I thought it would, and I had pretty high hopes. So far there are 12 chrysalises, and about 10 more caterpillars happily chowing down thanks to a restocking run to Jennifer’s.

Should be a few monarchs emerging any day now, which I’m excited about. I’ve noticed a few hanging around outside the sanctuary, trying to get inside to lay more eggs. I tried putting a pot of milkweed in front of it, which worked great until I looked out the office window and noticed the geese had discovered it and started chowing down.

monarch flyingThe monarch had just laid a bunch of eggs, so that was far from ideal and necessitated a panicked flight out of the house. I’ve also been checking on the cocoons after every rainstorm, but the sanctuary is far enough back that not much water or wind blows in on them.

I’ve had to be vigilant about checking the sanctuary for predators, too. So far I’ve escorted a spider and some weird triangular bug out. I didn’t realize that beetles eat caterpillars, or that they’ll latch onto the cocoons and do terrible things, but I guess that’s nature. I also didn’t realize that birds eat butterflies until Gene pointed out a flycatcher with colorful wings sticking out from either side of its beak. It’s a rough world for butterflies, but at least they’re getting a good start on life.

Sadly, we’ve inadvertently taken out a few ourselves, by way of the F150’s grill. Gene had to pop the hood on it yesterday, and expose the filter that’s behind the grill. It looked like modern art. Wings, striped torsos, heads that were identifiable by species – it was horrible. Festively colored, but horrible. I knew northern Minnesota had a ton of bugs, but I didn’t need that kind of proof.

Much more zen than squashed butterflies, you’re welcome.

I was going to snap a picture because one of my great joys in life is making Bess Bess say “ewwwww”, but I didn’t want the tow truck driver to think I was some kind of psycho who rejoices in the demise of butterflies trying to cross the highway. Gene had been picking up the tiller from Duluth and was on his way home when the truck broke down on the highway, so I had gone to pick him up.

Of course the truck picked the hottest day of the year so far to blow the alternator, so when the tow guy got there he was in a mood most foul. I cheerfully said hello, because who isn’t thrilled when the tow guy finally arrives? He stared at me, then growled, “It’s freaking hot”, except he didn’t say freaking. Then he unhooked our truck, got back in his, and left. Without saying another single word.

Then 10 minutes later we managed to lock the keys in the truck while it was running, and had to call AAA again. Gene said if they dispatched the same driver I should try to give him a hug to see if we could make him roar, but it was a different, much more cheerful guy.

That whole debacle took up about 5 hours, so when we got back home I decided to spend some time with the monarchs. While I love watching them, I’m torn because it vexes the robins who have their nest directly above the Sanctuary under the roof of the carport. It’s prime real estate, and they don’t like sharing it. They’ve buzzed my head, and they’ll perch on whatever surface is nearby and screech at me. You may not have known robins can screech, but indeed they can. The pair is on their second brood, and I realized why they’ve suddenly started to mind my presence so much – 3 more chicks hatched!

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