Mutated Monarch

EE great at
Fri Sep 3 04:39:16 EDT 1999

I've been raising Eastern Black Swallowtails in southern Ontario (to
educate myself) for the past few years. I haven't had any problems with

This year I got some Monarch eggs from the vacant lot and raised them in
a small meshed enclosure. Out of the 20+ eggs collected, I ended up with
10 surviving caterpillars. They all pupated successfully (or so I
thought). Very exciting to raise the generation that will migrate!

The first of 10 emerged this morning. It's definitely mutated. The
proboscis looks like a bifurcated corkscrew, and won't/can't uncoil, so
the butterfly can't feed. A feathery bit near it's mouthpart is stuck in
an upward postion on one side. Also, it was unable to pump fluid into
its wings, which look like scrunched up dry curly translucent paper. By
this afternoon, antennae drooping, it was clear that it was dying and
wouldn't make it. I have stills of the mutated Monarch dumped down from
Hi-8 that I can email to anyone who'd like to have a look.

Never having raised Monarch before, I don't know what's normal for them.
For instance, I thought that this particular caterpillar might have a
problem, as when it was resting it got really loose and kind of lolled
around on the milkweed leaf. Is this normal for Monarchs? Swallowtails
don't loll when they're resting. I know what kind of behavior to expect
from them. Also, in their final instar as caterpillars, the Monarchs
went through a period of striking the leaves they were feeding on with
their heads in a kind of percussive action almost like communication.
Does anyone know what that behavior is all about?

I've noticed  a few ants bearing aphids, which I've carefully picked off
the Monarch chrysalides, and some very small flies that keep crawling on
the jade jewels that I can't get at. Could these be a contributing
factor? Or are they a 'normal' part of the process?

I've heard that butterflies are prone to viruses .... If this is a virus
can it be transmitted to the neighbouring Swallowtails pillars or

Any ideas on what went wrong? Is there anything I can do for the remaing
chrysalides, other than wait and see? (probably not, huh)

I'd really appreciate any input as I don't want this to happen again.

Also, I'd be willing to mail my mutated Monarch to any entolmologist who
can use it.



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