Did the Ash from the Glass Fire Kill Monarch Caterpillars?

I am wondering, did the ash from the Glass Fire kill Monarch caterpillars? This year I planted milkweeds in my yard. Over two days a Monarch laid her eggs on the plants. I collected each leaf I could find with an egg--about 29 in all. The leaves were carefully taped to heavy paper. From every egg a tiny caterpillar hatched. Most dined on their own eggs. Afterwards, I carefully transferred them by a fine paint brush to the milkweed in my butterfly cage where they begin eating the leaves. As the days passed, the caterpillars grew fewer in number. From passed experience, I knew that some caterpillar cannibalisms would likely occur. What I didn't expect was the dying off of caterpillars at all stages of their growth process and particularly in the earlier phases. I wondered if toxins from the fires interfered with their ability to molt. I have about six left. Did my caterpillars experience a "Silent Spring" this fall?

Of course I tried to wash the ashes from the leaves of all my garden plants. Ash was ubiquitous this year showing up in iNat photos across the county. Some of my photos had a hazy sunset look caused by the piled up of smoke in the atmosphere. Perhaps smoke was a contributing factor. In any case, the caterpillars failed to thrive.

I will see how many successfully transform into chrysalises and how many emerge as butterflies. Will the air quality impact their survival at this late stage in their development? If, indeed, air quality is the problem?

I recall hearing that caterpillars breathe through their skin and found more information at Science Daily: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/08/110822151016.htm in this article titled: "Low oxygen triggers moth molt: Caterpillars have a respiratory system that is fixed in size." Could my caterpillars have been triggered to molt prematurely and unsuccessfully? I hope to hear caterpillar news from our scientific community.

Anotado por arlenedevitt arlenedevitt, 19 de octubre de 2020 a las 03:11 PM

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Mariposa Monarca (Danaus plexippus)

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arlenedevitt

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First photo: Monarch ovipositing on Narrowleaf Milkweed. Second photo is enlarged to show her curved abdomen as she lays the egg. Third photo is of two butterfly eggs on Milkweed. Flower is garden variety Lantana.

Note: Monarch preferentially laid on the narrow-leaved milkweed. I groom the milkweed following examination for eggs by gently rubbing off the yellow aphids.

9/19/2020 See photos of hand-raised caterpillars (first instar) at https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/60160721

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Mariposa Monarca (Danaus plexippus)

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arlenedevitt

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Monarch caterpillars raised from garden collected eggs.

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Mariposa Monarca (Danaus plexippus)

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arlenedevitt

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Octubre 2020

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Monarch chrysalis with two caterpillar preparing to become chrysalises

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