Friday, July 04, 2014

Two More Monarchs...Hopefully

About 10 days ago, on a walkabout through the back of our property, I found two little pieces of hope.  First was this monarch caterpillar on one of the smooth milkweed (Asclepias sullivantii) plants....

Second was a monarch chrysalis, which I just happened to notice in the far back.  The nearest milkweed, green antelopehorn (Asclepias viridis), was at least 5 feet away, probably farther.

When I went back out for another walkabout yesterday morning, I didn't see any caterpillars on the smooth milkweed plants.  While I would have loved to find another monarch caterpillar, I was quite sure that the cat I'd seen last week had already pupated, given its size 10 days earlier...and I had no expectation of finding where the chrysalis was hanging.  So I wasn't surprised, although I was a little disappointed.

In the Back 5, I looked for the chrysalis that I'd seen.  Since it had been in the middle of a pretty featureless area, I wasn't sure I'd be able to find it again, whether or not the butterfly had emerged.  Therefore, I was really tickled when I DID find the remains of the chrysalis, looking to me as if the butterfly had successfully flown.

So, this year my property has provided at least one (and hopefully 2) more monarch(s) to the country's population.  And those are just the ones I've found.  It makes me feel good, like our yard is helping the Earth stay just a little bit healthier.  Long live the monarchs!

1 comment:

George Ward said...

Hi Gaia - This is the first year I've realized the milkweed I've been removing all this time from my flower beds [though I kinda liked 'em...they just weren't supposed to be there] were a favorite of the Monarch. This year I let them all grow where ever they pleased. Plenty came up and I noticed more Monarchs. WooHoo! I checked the plants everyday and saw the Monarch larva [had to check online to confirm my suspicions]. I first noticed 1 fairly large one. A couple days later, a few more smaller ones. Then, another day, I noticed a group of tiny ones [though they were pretty hairy, they did have the Monarch Larva coloring so I let them be] just feasting the heck on the leaves of the Milkweed. I was elated that I was going to help produce a great 'harvest' of new Monarchs. Then, I noticed, just a couple days ago, one of the larger larva hanging from a leaf. On the leaf, standing at the edge of the leaf, was a light brown, triangular shaped bug/beetle sucking the life out of the larva...literally! I was bummed and flicked it away. There were many larva left. However, today, I found another of those damn things sucking on one of the smaller larva. I flicked it off too. As I continued to look around, I noticed all the tiny little hairy guys were gone. I have mo more larva! Waaaaa! say the least. The best guess I can come up with is that is was a stick but...or a conifer cone beetle. The one I saw was about 1/2 a pinky nail big. What can I do to prevent this in the future. I will be planting about 4,000 sq ft of wildflowers this year of a pollinator mix and don't want all to be in vain. I know to let nature take it's course but is there anything I can do to prepare? Thanks. George Ward. If you want, please em me at