Well, I'll take a shot at this! If your stalks in the bucket seem wilted, you'll need to either cut the stem again and rinse off the latex before putting them back in the bucket; or, you can just take the leaves and put them in a ziplock in the refrigerator. I've done the fridge storage before and it works reasonably well.
My favorite method would be to put all but the smallest cats onto stalks standing in water, as long as you're happy that the leaves won't dry out. Inside the pavilion would be best, to contain the poops and in case any get old enough to start wandering.
2. How much air do they need?
- They really don't require as much oxygen as most people seem to think. I've raised Manduca larvae (they get to 4" long, as big as your index finger) inside plastic ice cream cups with snap on lids, no holes... (that was a lab colony, major production!). Even if you weren't opening the lids, there is still plenty of air.
I've noticed some have a little webbing on the lid...are they trying to tell me something? Is this premature?
- The larvae are always putting down a little trail of silk from their salivary glands. When they want to molt, they make a little patch of silk to hold onto - you can see them moving their head from side to side as they crawl up. And when they want to molt, they often will leave the leaf and crawl onto the side or lid of the container. You needn't worry about this- just don't touch them, since they are somewhat delicate while preparing to molt!
3. Do I need a bag for each one? I have like 11 leaves with eggs in a large baggy? Is that too many? How long do I leave them in there?
- For the first week, its OK to keep several together, since each one is only eating a small portion of leaf. How many? I've had up to twenty in plastic tub at once, but I'm more comfortable with 4-5 per container...
I brought the ones from my garden in when they were about 1/4 inch some smaller. I put them immediately in the baby food containers, and they have done fine. I've got them stacked 3 high. It's working for me....but I'm sure everyone else has something easier.- Sounds just like our lab setup!
4. Should I keep them in the refrigerator? I'm trying to make it so that she won't have to go out and search for milkweed. Will it last for a week this way?[/b] - Yes.
5. The stalks are too big to put them in a cage. How do you keep it fresh in the containers while they are eating it?
The common milkweed is just one big stalk....it doesn't have limbs I can cut off and put into water and then put into their cage. How about, cut off the top of the stalk to a height that will fit into the pavilion, and take the leaves off the lower part to hold in the fridge? Otherwise, I would put a damp paper towel on a small plate and put one or two leaves on it, and one large caterpillar. Your sister can keep the paper towels damp each day and put new leaves on if needed.
I gave her my name and password so if she gets in a bind she can come to the forum and get help.
I would sure appreciate anyones advice.