Tag Archives: Florida Nature Photoblogger

Raising Your Own Butterflies

5 Dec

A Time to Live

Melody Hendrix

 

Raising your own butterflies
Raising your own Monarch butterflies at home can be fun and exciting. Especially if you have children or grandchildren that can experience it with you. It’s a wonderful display of God and nature. It also teaches struggles and responsibility for being a good stuart of our planet.

Let’s start with what you will need.

1.  You will need a container. What size and what kind depends on how much you want to engage in butterfly rearing and for how long. If you just want to raise a couple of butterflies, you can use a large jar, or anything that doesn’t give off chemicals. Just put a paper towel on the bottom and a stick that the caterpillar can climb up on inside. Mesh or panty hose secured with a rubber band at the top. Don’t use a jar lid with holes poked in because it is not enough air circulation and it can cut the caterpillars.

I recommend, for ease and enjoyment, that you purchase a butterfly house made for raising butterflies. They are made of a fine mesh that the caterpillars can easily climb. They keep out most preditors. They allow air to circulate. They are lightweight and fold up when not in use, and they can be cleaned and sterilized easily. I prefer a large one because I can put in a whole potted plant in it. When it is eaten, I exchange it with another and set the eaten one outside to regrow. Otherwise in a small container, you have to put cuttings in a vase with water. Caterpillars can fall into the water, so be sure to put foil or moss or something so there are no gaps in the stems for the caterpillars to fall through.

The caterpillars when ready to stop feeding, will make their way to the top of the mesh container or a stick. They will either climb a limb that is touching the mesh side, or most likely they will climb down the plant, across the bottom and up the mesh side to the top.
Monarch butterflies are the easiest to raise because their nectar plant and host plant is the same. So you can have many potted milkweed plants in your yard for the butterflies to have nectar and keep some in the butterfly house for the caterpillars. Try to keep the potted plants free of ants and insects by setting the pot on something instead of the dirt. Check plant for spiders or other insects that may be harmful. Water the plant and rinse the leaves before you put it in the house.
There are many sizes and shapes.
2.  Host plants. Be sure to buy enough host plants to last. It’s shocking to see how fast the caterpillars can consume an entire potted plant.
3.  Mist bottle. With all the machanics that go on inside the caterpillar, it needs moisture to be successful. Mist inside of the house and on the plants every few days. You can also keep damp newspaper on the bottom if you are raising them inside. It is better that they are kept outside unless it is cold.
4.  Calendar. You will want to know when to expect stages to happen so you won’t miss anything
5.  Q-Tips. You may need to move a caterpillar from the garden to the buttefly house. It is best to just break off the stem and lay it on top on the designated plant. It will move on it’s own. Or you can take a q-tip and gently work its feet off the plant. Extreme care must be taken not to drop or injure it in anyway.
6. If you have a small container, you can put host plant cuttings in a flourist water pick which will supply water to the plant for a day or two. Or use a vase as mentioned above.

7. Something to climb up on. In a mesh butterfly house, you don’t necessarily need anything for the butterfly to climb up on because it will find it’s way up the mesh sides and form it’s chrysalis at the top. If it is in glass, it will need to climb a stick to form it’s chrystalis at the top of the stick. Be sure there is a clear path from the plant to the stick.  Make sure there is plenty of room for the butterflies wings to expand once it’s emerged.
8. Weight. The mesh butterfly houses can blow away. If you have potted plants inside, there is no worry, but if you just have a vase or something plastic, you may need something sitting on the bottom to keep it from moving. Usually the house comes with tie downs to anchor it, but some rocks or brick sitting on the floor, will weight it down.
9.  Newspaper. Caterpillars poop a lot. You may wish to put some newspaper in your caterpillar condo to catch the frass and make it easy to dispose of. It’s very important to get rid of it – if frass stays in their refuge, they could get sick and die. Make sure where ever you will be raising your butterflies that it is not in a windy location. That will dry them out. Also keep them out of extreme cold or heat. They like humidity, but not to the point of growing mold.
If a chrysalis falls off, but not injured, you can hot glue, tape or pin the silk that holds the chrystalis to the top of the mesh house. The chrystalis can lay on the bottom on a paper towel, but when it emerges, it must have a way to immediately climb up on something to pump it’s fluid into it’s wings.


It will take 9 – 14 days for the butterfly to emerge once it makes it’s chrystalis. Mark it on the calendar. You will see it turn from green to almost black with color showing through. It will emerge the next morning. Probably very early. If the chrystalis stays black for more than 2 or 3 days. It’s dead. Remove it.


When the butterfly is ready to emerge, it does so very quickly. So be ready. Observe the butterfly for a few hours. When its wings are almost dry, you can put your finger under its legs and it should hop on your finger. Walk outside and set it on a flower for some great photos. It cannot fly until the wings have completely dried. It’s a perfect time to get great pictures. You won’t have to chase it all around the garden.

If you see a butterfly laying eggs on a plant, you can collect that plant, keep it in a water source and put it in the buttfly house to allow the eggs to develope and become the butterfly that laid the eggs. Keep picking fresh leaves from the same plant. Most butterflies drink from many different plants for nectar, so your new butterfly will likely have a food source nearby. Having many kinds of nectar plants is the key to attract many different kinds of butterflies.

Raising butterflies can be bitter sweet. They are not all meant to survive. Many things can go wrong and there are enemies lurking. but you can help its chance to survive and multiply. With more and more habitates lost and deadly chemicals everywhere, helping nature is a good thing.

One common problem is when the butterflies wings don’t get proper circulation for the wings to inflate and don’t straighten. It will never fly. The best thing you can do is set it concealed on a nectar plant and let nature take it’s course. Once I thought I would keep one alive. You can feed them red gatorade or cut some bananas or other fruit and they will eat the nectar juice. I wouldn’t recommend doing this. It lived 3 weeks. An unnecessary tedious effort.
Next week I will profile another easy to raise butterfly…. The Black Swallowtail. It loves dill and parsley.

 

 

 

I am retired and enjoying life. My hobbies are my 5 grandchildren, son and daughter, and my loving husband. I am a photographer and extreme nature lover. I love spending time in my garden or in the wilderness connected to God my Creator.
Melody

Hearts Like Wildflowers

17 Oct

A Life to Live

Melody Hendrix

 

 

I hope you are blessed
with a heart like wildflowers.
Strong enough to rise again
after being trampled upon,
tough enough to weather
the worst of the summer storms,
and able to grow and flourish
even in the most broken places.
Nikita Gill

 

 

I am retired and enjoying life. My hobbies are my 5 grandchildren, son and daughter, and my loving husband. I am a photographer and extreme nature lover. I love spending time in my garden or in the wilderness connected to God my Creator.
Melody

Who are You

10 Oct

A Time to Live

Melody Hendrix

 

 

 “May you believe…with all your heart…that God is writing a great story with your life!
May the lies that came your way today fall by the wayside and not make their way into your heart.
May you instead know and believe the truth about who you are and whose you are. You are loved, accepted, gifted, and treasured. You have important things to do in this life. May you refuse to let anyone distract you from God’s highest and best purpose for you. He’ll make a way where there seems to be no way. He’ll move mountains at just the right time. You can trust Him. So trust Him. And sleep well tonight.”
 Susie Larson

 

 

I am retired and enjoying life. My hobbies are my 5 grandchildren, son and daughter, and my loving husband. I am a photographer and extreme nature lover. I love spending time in my garden or in the wilderness connected to God my Creator.
Melody

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After the Storm

12 Sep

A Time to Live

Melody Hendrix

 

 

Beautiful Dreams

22 Aug

A Life to Live

Melody Hendrix

 

 

 

 

I am retired and enjoying life. My hobbies are my 5 grandchildren, son and daughter, and my loving husband. I am a photographer and extreme nature lover. I love spending time in my garden or in the wilderness connected to God my Creator.
Melody

Florida Travel~Blowing Rocks Preserve

1 Aug

A Life to Live

Melody Hendrix

 

Blowing Rocks Preserve    574 S Beach Rd, Hobe Sound, FL 33455

Blowing Rocks Preserve is an environmental preserve on Jupiter Island in Hobe Sound, Martin County, Florida. It is owned by The Nature Conservancy. It contains the largest Anastasia limestone outcropping on the state’s east coast.

 

 

 

The dark, jagged rocks are a specific type of sedimentary rock called Anastasia limestone.

 

 

Scientists disagree on exactly how far inland the limestone extends, exactly when it was formed (most likely around 120,000 years ago, in the Pleistocene Age) and whether it was formed by a single event or by multiple changes in sea level.

A few things scientists can agree on:

Anastasia limestone extends along Florida’s coast from St. Augustine to Boca Raton, and

Blowing Rocks Preserve harbors the largest outcropping on the U.S. Atlantic Coast.

The exposed rock at the preserve is unusual, not because Anastasia limestone is particularly rare, but because it is commonly found either underground or underwater.

 

 

Also known as coquina, from the Spanish for cockleshell, Anastasia limestone is composed primarily of shell and coral fragments, fossils and sand. Small fossils are clearly visible in the rock faces, most commonly the shells of small clams and oysters or pieces of a large snail called Busycon.

Why is so much of the limestone above ground at Blowing Rocks? No one knows. The land here might have once been part of an exposed sand ridge or the top of a reef, or for some other reason higher than surrounding areas.

At their height in winter, the Blowing Rocks are worth a visit in every season. The wind- and wave-carved limestone forms chimneys and shelves, burrows, blow holes and rocky pools. These offer great opportunities for exploration and imagination, as well as a rare window into Florida’s natural history.

 

 

You may want to check the tide schedule for Jupiter Island.

When the tide is high the water shoots up holes in the rocks. It can be a spectacular sight.

 

 

It is also beautiful to visit at low tide when you can walk the beach and explore the rocks and caves.

 

 

There are some great places in this area to enjoy. One of the places I liked was

Coral Cove Park    19450 County Hwy 707, Tequesta, FL 33469

 

 

This beach also had rocks at low tide, but it also had a nice sandy swimming beach. Coral Cove Park is a waterfront park located in Tequesta, Florida, right outside the city of Jupiter at 19450 State Road 707, Tequesta, FL. Excellent park with beach access. Facility has restrooms and a shower to wash the salt and sand off after a day at the beach. Lots of parking.

​​​​​Carlin Park 400 S. S.R. A1A Jupiter, Florida was another very nice beach park.

Carlin Park is a great place to spend the day. It has many amenities including a beach that has lifeguards. There are pavilions for picnics, a nice small restaurant with good food, a playground for the children. I have been taking my family there for years and it is always well maintained; a very pleasant place to bring the family.

There is a beautiful lighthouse and museum that is a must.

Jupiter Lighthouse and Museum

If you love to beach hop, take a beach tour on your way back home. Start from Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse A1A to S. Beach Rd and follow it north to SE Bridge Rd back to I-95, stopping at all the beautiful beach accesses and explore each beach along the way. Most of them are uncrowded quiet beaches.

 

 

Please visit next week as we leave Florida and go to Savannah and Tybee Island Georgia.

 

 

 

 

 

I am retired and enjoying life. My hobbies are my 5 grandchildren, son and daughter, and my loving husband. I am a photographer and extreme nature lover. I love spending time in my garden or in the wilderness connected to God my Creator.
Melody

Florida Travel~Florida Keys

25 Jul

A Life to Live

Melody Hendrix

 

I have been going to the Florida Keys for 40 years. It is so tropical and so different from the rest of Florida. If you love the sun, beach life and water, this is paradise.

 

 

Drive the Overseas Highway across a 113-mile chain of coral and limestone islands connected by 42 bridges, one of them seven miles long.

 

Each Key is a little different and offers it’s own uniqueness.

 

 

My favorite Key is Bahia Honda State Park.

 

 

All of the Keys are made up of hard coral and most first time campers are surprised when they try to hammer their tent stakes in the ground. They are useless. One must buy very large nails and drive them in to hold down the tent ties.  This is true also here, but this park is actually one of the few with stunning shallow white sandy beaches and are awarded the worlds best beach.

Henry Flagler’s railroad to Key West turned the remote island of Bahia Honda Key into a tropical destination.

https://www.floridastateparks.org/park/Bahia-Honda

The island’s name, Spanish for “deep bay”.

A walk on the Old Bahia Honda Bridge offers a panoramic view of the Gulf and Atlantic waters.

The National Key Deer Refuge On Big Pine Key was established in 1957 to protect and preserve in the national interest of the Key deer and other wildlife resources in the Florida Keys.

 

 

The Refuge is located in the lower Florida Keys and currently consists of approximately 9,200 acres of land that includes pine rockland forests, tropical hardwood hammocks, freshwater wetlands, salt marsh wetlands, and mangrove forests.

Marathon Key – Snuba dive Sombrero Reef

 

https://www.tildensscubacenter.com/

I have been a scuba diver for many years, but snuba is truly the way to go. Anyone can do it. We dove Sombrero Reef with this company and was very pleased. Check it out if exploring the beautiful underwater world is on your bucket list.

Another delightful thing to do in the Keys is to swim with the dolphin. There are a few places that offer it.

http://www.floridakeysswimwithdolphins.com/

Key West  The Southernmost Point Buoy is an anchored concrete buoy in Key West, Florida marking the southernmost point in the continental United States.

 

 

Key West Lighthouse. 

As you walk the shops and restauraunts of Key West,

you can see the lighthouse in most locations.

 

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Key_West_lighthouse

 

And don’t forget to end your day at Mallory Square to enjoy eats, entertainment and celebrate a gorgeous sunset.

Join me next week to enjoy Blowing Rocks. An unusual beach for Florida.

 

 

 

 

 

I am retired and enjoying life. My hobbies are my 5 grandchildren, son and daughter, and my loving husband. I am a photographer and extreme nature lover. I love spending time in my garden or in the wilderness connected to God my Creator.
Melody

Florida Travel~Panama City

4 Jul

A Time to Love

Melody Hendriv

 

 

 

We arrive at the Florida pan handle beaches and our hotel Osprey on the Gulf.

 

Trip Advisor attractions and activities Panama City Beach, Florida 

Walking down to the beach was heaven.

 

 

These beaches are so breathtaking with their clean white sand (most of the time) and beautiful, tropical green, crystal clear water with gentle waves that sooth the soul. It is a natural tranquilizer created by this peaceful environment.

 

 

There are many nice piers along the way. Russell – Fields Pier was just a short distance from our hotel.

 

 

It was fun exploring the public beach accesses from Panama City beach to Destin on SR 30 (Front Beach Rd) to Highway US 98 to Destin. Each access is a little different and all are stunning.

 

 

 

another beach access.

 

Continuing west, we stopped at Rosemary Beach. This mini resort town is gorgeous with it’s little shops and restaurants.

 

 

It’s worth a stroll. Then we continued sight seeing and stopping at beaches until we got to Destin.

The next day we visited St. Andrews State Park.

 

 

There are so many awesome features of this park. The dunes are spectacular.

This is a nice pier and jetties, and a perfect swimming area, concession and gift shop.

You can take a short boat tour to Shell Island State Park.  There is just majestic sand dunes and a gorgeous beach and water.

 

You have to bring food and water and a warning is the distance you have to walk uphill in the sand, no boardwalk, can be a bit challenging.

 

However to be in this gem is worth the effort.

 

 

You can see dolphins in the distance and many sea birds. You may even see some man made birds from Tyndall Air Force Base.

 

There is an amazing freshwater lake in the middle of the island.

 

It is like an oasis of a totally different fresh water environment. Nature is so amazing to have a relief for all the creatures in the harsh saltwater conditions.

As you walk along the white sand, you can see little creature tracks leading inland to the oasis.

 

 

You are restricted from some areas.

There is so much to do in the panhandle. Here is a link to find your interest here.

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attractions-g1438845-Activities-Florida_Panhandle_Florida.html

Join me next week as we explore beautiful Sanibel Island.

 

 

 

 

I am retired and enjoying life. My hobbies are my 5 grandchildren, son and daughter, and my loving husband. I am a photographer and extreme nature lover. I love spending time in my garden or in the wilderness connected to God my Creator.
Melody
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