Gossamer Tapestry

Reflections on conservation, butterflies, and ecology in the nation's heartland

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Egg Man Redux

Silver-bordered Fritillary (not my photo)

Last fall, I blogged a couple of times about the butterfly restoration work that I'm doing, and some of the frustrations that I was having with it. One of the species that we are working with, the silver-bordered fritillary (Boloria selene) is common in parts of its range, but a very uncommon species of wet prairies in Illinois.

Collecting site in Grundy County

This summer, we're already off to a better start than last year. We were unable to obtain any breeding stock for the silver-bordered fritillary until the very end of the season, even though we made a half dozen trips to the collecting site in Grundy County. Last week, Vincent and I went back out to Grundy County and got a half dozen gravid females with lettle difficulty, a full 2 months earlier than last year.

Egg laying cages under lights in lab

For the past week, the butterflies have been confined in egg laying cages under lights in our lab. To maximize egg production, the lights are on for an hour and off for an hour, 24 hours a day. We have over 100 eggs from each butterfly, and they began hatching today.

If you look closely, you can see the eggs on the screen. The Q-Tip is soaked in Fierce Melon Gatorade and will provide food for the butterfly while she's laying eggs.

Because of the problems that we had last year, we sent Vincent down to the McGuire Center for Lepedoptera Research at the University of Florida at Gainesville to imporve our rearing techniques. He returned with great information about how to improve our rearing. If all goesw well, about 100 adults from this generation will be released at GLacial Park in McHenry County about a month from now.

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At 18:39, Blogger rodger said...

I could give you some rearing techniques but it wouldn't help with the butterfly problem.

Just sayin'

Oh...and Gatorade? Whodathunk?

I'm keeping my fingers crossed for you this time.

At 19:50, Anonymous pablo said...

Great effort! I really enjoy reading about this kind of thing. And people who really make a positive difference.

At 19:50, Anonymous rcwbiologist said...

Thanks for sharing the info. That sounds like a fun project. I wouldn't have guessed that Gatorade would have been what you used to feed them. Sounds like I need to try some of that fierce melon myself. I wish you luck. Keep us posted on the progress.

At 09:22, Blogger robin andrea said...

What a great project. I'm really looking forward to progress reports, but especially to the photos of the adults. Those fritillaries are quite beautiful.

At 13:00, Blogger Doug Taron said...

Rodger and RCW - I have always suspected that the Gatorade thing is a result of that part of the procedure being developed at the University of Florida at Gainesville. The folks who first started using it for butterflies found that Fierce Melon was the flavor that worked best.

Pablo - Thanks. The opportunity to do this particular kind of work was my main motivation for taking the Museum job.

Robin - I agree, this is a beautiful butterfly. And I do need to get some of my own picturesfor talks, and papers, and here.


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