Sunday, October 23, 2011

More on the Monarch

It's Sunday evening and the Monarch is still with us. We've been keeping him in a plastic salad container, lined with a paper towel and covered with a paper towel with some holes punched in it. (This Monarch is a male because he has a dark spot on each hind wing, as illustrated below.)
Yesterday, after it warmed up to about 60F outside, we put the Monarch outdoors, in the sunshine in a place sheltered from the wind, giving him a chance to fly away if he could. He moved only a few feet, staying close to the house. I read that a Monarch's flight muscles must be at least 55F before it can fly. I fear that this Monarch has missed the window in which it is warm enough for it to fly south.

I did some more research and found that a sugar water solution (1 part sugar to 4 parts water) can substitute for the nectar that Monarchs eat. So I've been giving him sugar water a couple of times each day, helping him to eat by gently placing his proboscis, that looks like a coiled straw when a Monarch is not eating, in the solution. I gently and carefully uncoil his proboscis with a straight pin. Today, I also gave him water to drink and got some watermelon for him to eat, another good food source.
Drinking the sugar water solution.
Drinking from a water-soaked paper towel.

This image shows the coiled proboscis.

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