During a typical summer, I’m used to seeing a few Monarchs each week. Things pick up a bit during the fall migration, but this property is outside the primary Monarch migration route, so I usually don’t see multiple butterflies during that time. This year I’ve been seeing Monarchs on a daily basis, sometimes several at once. Many of those sightings are centered around the Milkweed plants in front of the house. The flowers have passed, so that’s not the reason why they are drawn here.
It’s not always easy to see what they’re up to.
While clinging to the edge of the leaf, the
Monarch probes the underside with the tip of its abdomen. Just a brief stop and then it moves on.
With luck, this will be an adult Monarch by
This year the Monarchs are leaving their eggs on several other members
of the milkweed family, which is something I’ve rarely seen them do. I watched this Monarch visiting a patch of
Butterfly Weed and noticed that its brief visitations to the flowers had
nothing to do with nectaring. I headed
over to see if I could find any eggs.
These plants are growing in an area that was mowed in late May as part
of a Sweet Clover control plan, so the plants are at an earlier stage of growth
than most others in the area.
Then I noticed the short stubs at the base of
the flower clusters and realized they were all that was left of the consumed
That’s to be expected in an area that is
primarily classified as a xeric environment.
A few Swamp Milkweed plants survive in sand and gravel deposits along
the creek. This is a shaded, mostly
wooded environment that normally doesn’t attract open field travelers like
flower in the cluster has room to display itself as an individual.
While admiring the leaves, I noticed that most were displaying some
This is the first time I’ve ever found
Monarch caterpillars on this species.
I wish them luck in their
development. Their survival depends much
on the weather. A heavy rain storm can
quickly bring the creek to flash flood condition and that would lay this plant
flat. The plant can survive that type of
treatment, but the caterpillars would probably be lost. This unprecedented breeding effort by Blue
Jay Barrens Monarchs would almost make you believe that the butterflies were
aware of their declining numbers and were doing their best to turn the trend
around. I’m just happy to have this
opportunity to enjoy such a marvelous creature.
Salmon and Salad Dinner
6 hours ago