Tragedy - Orange Tip

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NickMorgan
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Tragedy - Orange Tip

Postby NickMorgan » Wed Apr 12, 2017 5:40 pm

You may remember that last year I mentioned on the forum that I had discovered an Orange Tip chrysalis that had lost its silk support and was hanging upside down. The consensus was that it could become unhooked, so it would be best to take it into care!
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I bought a net cage and snipped the Garlic Mustard seed stem and put it in a pot of soil in the cage. I kept the cage in the garage all winter and noticed last week that the chrysalis had started to colour up.
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I have been keeping an eye on it and this morning there appeared to be no change, but sadly this evening when I arrived home I found that it had failed to fully emerge from the chrysalis.
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Does anyone have any theories why this should have happened? I wonder if it was too dry. I know that chickens can stick to the membrane of the egg if the eggs are not kept sufficiently humid during incubation. It was obviously very dry in the garage and it has been dry and windy since I brought it outside and we haven't had rain for weeks.
I have one more Orange Tip chrysalis and I would like to avoid this happening again.

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Jack Harrison
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Re: Tragedy - Orange Tip

Postby Jack Harrison » Wed Apr 12, 2017 7:23 pm

I was advised many years ago to spray chrysaliises with water. Wet toothbrush or similar with thumb run along it is ideal.

Jack

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NickMorgan
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Re: Tragedy - Orange Tip

Postby NickMorgan » Wed Apr 12, 2017 7:53 pm

Thanks Jack. I'll give that a try. Great idea of flicking the water off a toothbrush.

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Mark Tutton
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Re: Tragedy - Orange Tip

Postby Mark Tutton » Wed Apr 12, 2017 8:56 pm

I think as the pupa was upside down which may not have helped - normally the butterfly would crawl out of the pupa and cling on to let its wings expand and dry with the help of gravity?
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David M
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Re: Tragedy - Orange Tip

Postby David M » Wed Apr 12, 2017 9:12 pm

Tragedy is the right word for it. You did everything you could given the circumstances.

Yes, moistening the pupal case would be helpful but unless you are there at the time of emergence, you are limited as to what you can do.

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Vince Massimo
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Re: Tragedy - Orange Tip

Postby Vince Massimo » Wed Apr 12, 2017 10:51 pm

I think it was probably just bad luck, Nick. I have seen pupae hanging like this producing healthy adults. Even pupae that have become completely detached have been fine, provided the emerging butterfly has somewhere to climb in order to expand and dry its wings. I agree that providing some moisture during particularly dry spells would be a good idea. I use an atomiser filled with cooled boiled water.

Vince

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NickMorgan
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Re: Tragedy - Orange Tip

Postby NickMorgan » Thu Apr 13, 2017 6:41 am

Thank you everyone. Hopefully the other chrysalis will do better.
Of the other five that I left alone, two have disappeared. What a perilous existence!

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Re: Tragedy - Orange Tip

Postby LancsRover » Fri Apr 14, 2017 3:10 pm

Unlucky Nick, I hope you are more successful with your other OT pupae.
Russ.

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NickMorgan
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Re: Tragedy - Orange Tip

Postby NickMorgan » Fri Apr 14, 2017 6:34 pm

Thanks Russ,
I'll keep you posted.

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Re: Tragedy - Orange Tip

Postby badgerbob » Sat Apr 15, 2017 3:08 pm

Hi Nick.

I rescued some Garlic Mustard from the dreaded Council mowers a few years ago. OT eggs on the plants hatched out and several larva were brought through. All the larva except one left to pupate. The remainder did pupate on the Garlic Mustard, although the pupa also lost the top support so ended upside down. I thought it may struggle, but the following spring a female emerged successfully. It was kept outside all the time which may have helped.

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NickMorgan
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Re: Tragedy - Orange Tip

Postby NickMorgan » Sat Apr 15, 2017 9:00 pm

Thanks Bob,
Others have previously said that being upside down shouldn't be an issue. Having spent the winter in the garage and now outside I think that a lack of humidity may be an issue. It has been amazingly dry so far this year and quite windy these last few days.
I'll be spraying the other chrysalis with water just in case.
I have had no luck with caterpillars and chrysalises. I rescued an Orange Tip caterpillar from a garlic mustard plant that had been cut down and I had a Painted Lady egg on a thistle that hatched out, but unfortunately we then had truly torrential rain for about 40 minutes, which washed them both off the plants. The Large and Small White caterpillars on my Nasturtiums disappeared one by one and I suspect it was the spiders living on the shed next to them that were to answer for that one.
I thought I would help out these two chrysalises, but so far no luck. I found seven in the area these two came from and when I checked there again a few weeks ago I could only find three!
It's a hard life trying to be a butterfly! :?

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NickMorgan
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Re: Tragedy - Orange Tip

Postby NickMorgan » Sun May 14, 2017 10:13 pm

I realise that I should have updated this post.
I am happy to announce that on 27th April the second chrysalis successful emerged. It was a female. I splashed some water on the chrysalis occasionally in case the other chrysalis had been too dry. I know this is critical with bird eggs hatching.
The following morning I took the butterfly round to a local, wildlife-friendly farm where I opened the cage by a patch of Garlic Mustard and Honesty growing in a lovely sunny patch.
It was a joy to watch here open up her wings and take her first flight to freedom.
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Five days before emerging

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Four days before emerging, but we then had a couple of cold, cloudy days

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Goldie M
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Re: Tragedy - Orange Tip

Postby Goldie M » Mon May 15, 2017 9:15 am

So pleased for you Nick, you'll feel so good about seeing her fly for freedom after your disappointment with the other OT. Goldie :D

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NickMorgan
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Re: Tragedy - Orange Tip

Postby NickMorgan » Mon May 15, 2017 4:31 pm

Thanks Goldie,
Yes, I was thrilled to see her flying off, although part of me didn't want to watch in case a bird swooped down and got her!!
The whole experience has made me realise what a knife-edge butterflies live on. I am determined to do my bit to try to help them as much as I can.

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David M
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Re: Tragedy - Orange Tip

Postby David M » Mon May 15, 2017 8:39 pm

Well done, Nick! Second time lucky!

I showed this sequence to a nature lover at work and she was absolutely bowled over.

Orange Tips have had a good season this year and it's nice to see another female added to the larger than usual ranks. :)


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