skates4marty wrote:I'm not bleaching the leaves -- washing well mostly to get the aphids off. Have not been drying before giving them to the cats. Figured the condensation would take the place of misting. There seem to be two camps in raising B-flies -- the "keep stuff dry," and the "mist once a day" camps. Which camp one supports might depend on whether cats are outside in the humidity, or inside in the air conditioning...?
But the others who are seeing these green stains are not refrigerating their leaves. One is putting stalks in vases (and a 4-hole toothbrush holder) , like she always has. It's puzzling.
Even in Air condition settings, wet leaves can be bad especially with low air flow in the rearing containers designed to help hold humidity.... condensation/wetness on leaves in general is bad in an indoor setting. Outdoor setting with big open air caging is different. I raise my cats in my office at work.. it's air conditioned and I do not wet leaves or mist at all. I line the containers with paper towels to soak up as much moisture from the frass as possible.
As for the friend who is not refrigerating and feeding fresh.. could be bacteria or virus.
I had a batch of milkweed in my yard that I had been using with no problems (just rinsing leaves, no bleaching) for a few weeks then suddenly one day all the cats I was feeding those leaves to started getting sick. Soon found cutworm moth cats living around the milkweed plants outside also affected (and dying)....apparently got hit with the caterpillar melt virus. What startled me most was I even found ladybugs affected. seeing 2 melted ladybug adults was almost heartbreaking.
Switched to a different location for milkweed for a few days and the cats that were still alive recovered for the most part.. enough to pupate... lost 5 chrysalis though (the virus made the chrys. melt), but the others survived. Unfortunately, that patch didn't last long for the high numbers I was raising so I had to move on to yet another patch.
That patch actually scared me... all this beautiful milkweed... plenty of signs of dozens and dozens of monarch cats having been around... but not a single cat to be found. this was a nice patch of mostly soft new plants too that aphids just adore... but hardly no aphids to be seen. The leaves of almost every single plant showed signs of the melt virus (black liquid splashes on leaves everywhere). I was desperate for milkweed so I harvested 4 days worth of leaves from the patch anyway. took the leaves and soaked them in tub of bleach water (stronger than I felt safe using..about 1/3 cup to 3 gallons of water) for 10-15 min...stirring them up frequently. I then used a good sponge soaked in the bleach water and began wiping each leaf down (on both sides) several times in the tub of bleach water getting most of the black splashes cleaned off and what not. After each leaf was thoroughly soaked and wiped clean in bleach water I threw it into a tub of clean water (no bleach) to soak.... over and over until all leaves were bleached and cleaned. I soaked the clean leaves in the 2nd tub and stirred them up frequently for about 10-15 min. I laid the leaves out wet onto paper towels and layered them until all leaves were done. Then stuck the whole stack into a 2 gallon zip lock bag and put in the fridge. Opening the bag up the next day you could smell the bleach residue (smelled like a swimming pool lol)... so that was good...hoped the residue took care of any possible left over virus hiding on the leaves. I took enough leaves for the day out and then rinsed again in cold water and wiped down several times with a sponge to get all the residue off. Then dried them all and fed to the cats. No problems..cats didn't get sick.. Every day.. pull some leaves from the bag and rinse with water and wipe down and dry and feed to the cats... every day.. no sick cats. Most of the cats that were feeding on the leaves from that scary patch have gone into chrysalis and the chrysalis are good.. none have gone black....so the disinfection of the leaves from that contaminated patch was apparently a success. the strong bleach solution was enough to kill the virus so now I won't feel bad about having to use leaves from my home patch later if I have to with this newest wave of cats I am raising.