A Little Accomplishment

We have always had Monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus) in the garden.  It’s an official sign of summer when we see them in our garden.  They travel up from Mexico, their winter gathering place, every year.  It takes them two generations for their trip up north, but only one generation flying back.

I’ve learned that their population is in decline since we humans have been eliminating their caterpillar favorite food source – Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca).  Industrial farming indiscriminatingly kills all the weeds along their flight path.  I know Milkweed is very invasive and poisonous if you eat it raw.  The milky sap that oozes out of a cut on one will make you itch if it get on your skin.  However, I’m not ready to see the Monarch butterflies pushed toward extinction.

I don’t know how the first Milkweed got in to our garden, but I had tried to get rid of them too.  Not much of a success; they keep coming up every spring wherever the roots have spread.  Once I learned that the well being of the Monarch population depends on this weed, I changed to digging them up and replanting them along our property.  This year is the third year I have been doing that.

The Monarchs have shown their appreciation for the first time this summer.  They mate in the garden.  I guess they have learned that they can depend on our garden for the survival of their young.  Since I saw them mating, I’ve been checking the Milkweed every couple of days.  Finally, they made me really happy today.  I found two caterpillars with bright yellow, white and black stripes munching on the Milkweed.  Just the sight of them made today a perfect day!

Monarch taking nectar from an Echinacea flower.
They decided to start their next generation in our garden.
Monarch caterpillar on a Milkweed stem.

4 thoughts on “Monarch

  1. Nice photos. I’m missing the monarchs this year. Usually have Asclepias tuberosa (Butterfly weed) in several spots but it all disappeared. Enjoy your monarchs.

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