OK, so our FIRST butterfly eclosed late afternoon yesterday
. After rummaging around in the forum, I found out that the butterfly should be allowed to fully dry its wings for 24 hrs before tagging. So we waited even though two more chrysalids looked almost ready to eclose.
As anticipated, two butterflies eclosed this morning, and I realized my mistake. As soon as THEIR wings were fully extended, I couldn't tell which one had eclosed YESTERDAY.
I brought in a bouquet of flowers and after a while, one of them landed on the flowers, while the other two stayed on the top of the container. So assuming this one to be the more mature (and hungry) one, my daughter and I tagged her before we lost her again. The tag stayed on so hopefully, her wings are dry enough, and we'll release her today. The other two will be tagged/released tomorrow.
Based on this experience, I'm thinking that we're going to be seeing even more multiple butterflies eclosing at once and I'm NOT going to be able to tell yesterday's and today's apart again. Also, the pupating cage is too small for mass eclosures. So, would the best plan be to make/buy a butterfly enclosure in which we can transfer the eclosed butterflies to await tagging? Is waiting overnight sufficient -- i.e. tag and release yesterday's, then fill with today's butterfies. Last year, we only had butterflies eclosing in two's and three's and we mostly released them as soon as their wings were fully extended and they started flapping around, but we've had as many as 5 pupating at once this year and I'm afraid the cage (Butterfly Garden from InsectLore) is much too small for 5 flapping Monarchs...
Any advise from experienced members would be welcome.