With the on-going drought in the western U.S. and exceptionally high summer temperatures, 2021 proved to be one of the most challenging years so far for our butterfly farm. Western Tiger and Two-tailed swallowtails did moderately well, but we had near total brood losses of Anise and Oregon swallowtails, due to the extreme heat wave. Most of our moth species proved more resilient, although our smaller experimental broods of Western Eyed and Big Poplar sphinx moths also succumbed to heat-related issues. (Based on what we saw in the region, wild populations also suffered greatly.)
Through the pain of 2021, we learned a lot of valuable lessons. We look forward to doubling down and having a more successful 2022, regardless of what Mother Nature may throw at us. We're already planting seeds and getting set-ups ready for spring and summer rearing. We plan to re-establish the broods that were weakened in 2021. Some of these adjustments are to create different, more heat-resistant set-ups and others relate to providing host plants with higher moisture content leaves.
To kick off the year, egg pre-orders are available for Polyphemus silk moths, Ceanothus silk moths, and the lovely White-lined sphinx "hummingbird" moths. At this point, we're holding off on butterfly eggs, but may offer butterflies as freshly-hatched caterpillars, as numbers allow. Look for this possibility in June. We're hoping to offer butterfly egg presales again in 2023.
One success of 2021 was collecting seeds from a wider variety of nectar and host plants, which are now available.