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August 11, 2007

The last wild monarch in the yard to successfully eclose was on June 17. Since then, I've found only one or two larva surviving to the size where I've noticed them, brought them in to rear in a protected environment, but they did not make it, victums of the "Florida Malady." For those who find this obscure page, the "Malady" is something I've been trying to measure and find conrol factors for years now . Basically, when the daytime temperatures climb above 80 degrees f. consistently, the health of the monarch larva decline. In the fall, when the temperatures drop, the monarchs thrive through the winter. Predators account for most of the larva during the summer in the wilds of my yard, notably paper wasps and ants, but if they do reach maturity, most are in bad shape. The pupae may appear fine and normal, but the eclosing adult is not healthy. Certainly temperature plays and important role in this problem, and I am running experiments in that regard prsently, but temperature does not appear to be a single factor. I have noticed improvement in manipulating temperatiures to mimic winter conditions, but there is still fair mortality, over 25% in a good batch, higher in others. Still work to do.

Adult monarchs are a daily sight and have been all year to date. Females are laying eggs though few larva, in fact none right now, survive long after hatching. There are always four to six flying in my view from the porch.

A red admiral flew in yesterday, an unusual sight this time of year. The butterfly was a female and I observed her laying eggs on our false nettle, so I collected what I could find and am trying to raise them. For the most part now, I raise other species in the summer and confine my interest in monarchs to small experimental groups. I am raising giant swallowtails and julias now, and this spring raised southern whites, zebra longwings, gulf fritillaries, and a few eastern black swallowtails.

We will post further observations as warranted.

Dale McClung

St. Petersburg, FL

Thanks for visiting.

Dale & Peggy McClung

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