Tag Archives: Monarch Caterpillars

MONARCHS HERE, THERE, AND EVERYWHERE PART TWO AND PLEASE CONTINUE TO REPORT YOUR MONARCH SIGHTINGS

The title of the post could just as easily have read Monarchs, Eggs, and Caterpillars Here, There, and Everywhere. I haven’t seen this much Monarch activity on Cape Ann in over ten years and hope so much the number of Monarchs seen in gardens, meadows, and dunes indicates a strong migration.

Thank you to everyone who has written in with your Monarch sightings! The reports are tremendously informative and fun to read, so please, do continue to let us know. The rainy cool weather has temporarily put the kibosh on mating and egg laying, but they are here on our shores and just waiting for a few warm hours and the sun to come out to renew breeding activity.

Monarchs not only drink nectar from the florets of milkweed, it is the only species of plant on which they deposit their eggs. In the above photo you can clearly see the Monarch probing for nectar with her proboscis, or drinking straw. 

Look for the butterflies, eggs, and caterpillars wherever milkweed grows. In our region, they are most often found on pink flowering Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) and Marsh Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata), as opposed to the orange milkweeds, A. curassavica and A. tuberosa.

Female Monarch depositing an egg on an upper leaf of Common Milkweed.

The eggs are typically laid on the underside of the leaf, near the top of the plant. Tiny golden domes, no larger than a pinhead, Monarch eggs are easily confused with the eggs of other insects.

Once the tiny caterpillar emerges, it will stay towards the top of the plant, venturing further to larger leaves as it grows.

Four Monarchs in One Photo!

I was trying to take a snapshot of two Monarchs flying but not until I returned home did I realize that resting on a leaf were a pair of Monarchs mating. Lara Lepionka had just sent a photo the day before of a pair mating in a tree above her garden. Typically Monarchs will begin mating on the ground, or the foliage of a lower plant plant such as squash or milkweed. They will join together abdomen to abdomen and, once securely attached, the male then carries the female to a safer location. A male and female Monarch will stay coupled together for four to five hours before releasing (see photo below of a pair of Monarchs mating, towards center left. 

Lara Lepionka cell phone photo of Monarchs mating in a tree.Monarch and Common Milkweed Good Harbor Beach

Not everyone has a gorgeous milkweed patch like Patti Papows. Don’t despair. You don’t have to go far! I am finding tons of eggs and caterpillars on the Common Milkweed that grows around the edge of the parking lot at Good Harbor Beach.

Patti Papows Common Milkweed with Monarch and Bee

 

PATTI’S CATTIES AND OTHER TALES FROM THE PAPOWS BEAUTIFUL GARDEN

My friend Patti Papows very thoughtfully invited me to come film and take photos in her gorgeous garden, especially her milkweed patch. Patti purchased milkweed plants from our Cape Ann Milkweed Project several years ago, both the Common and Marsh Milkweed that we offered.

Patti’s Common Milkweed has really taken off this year. The plants are about five feet tall, lush and healthy, and bursting with sweetly fragrant blossoms. The Monarchs are daily visitors, coming not by the ones and twos, but by the dozen. Not only are her milkweed blossoms beckoning to the Monarchs, but the plants are also attracting every bee species imaginable found in a Cape Ann garden, as well as myriad other pollinating insects.

I showed Patti how to find Monarch caterpillars. She found three in about three minutes; we weren’t even trying that hard! They are safer from spiders in my terrariums, so I brought her tiny caterpillars home where they are developing nicely alongside a dozen Monarch eggs. These eggs were discovered in my garden, and at the Common Milkweed plants growing along the edges of the Good Harbor Beach parking lot.

Patti’s patch of native highbush blueberries attracts loads of Catbirds, and dozens more species of songbirds and small mammals. This morning the foliage made a perfect perch for a male Monarch butterfly.

In the above photo you can clearly see the Monarch’s two-part tubular drinking straw, called a proboscis. The Monarch is probing deep into the Milkweed floret for a sip of sweet nectar. 

Who, me? I’m innocent! Chipmunk snacking at the buffet-of-plenty in Patti’s garden.

Patti placed the purple chair in the midst of the milkweed patch so that visitors can enjoy being surrounded by the beautiful pollinators buzzing all around and the delightful fragrance emitted by the Common Milkweed. I tried it out and her plan worked, it is pure Heaven!

I had an absolutely wonderful morning filming and photographing, despite the limiting overcast skies, and plan to return on a sunnier day, hopefully this week while the Monarchs are here on Cape Ann busy egg-laying and pollinating our gardens!

 

Patti shares that at the end of the day, her Monarchs are nectaring from the flowering hosta. She sent these photos this morning, taken yesterday afternoon with her cell phone. 

A Huge Thank You to Everyone for Your Milkweed and Aster Orders!!!

Monarch Butterfly Explosion El Rosario Mexico ©Kim Smith 2014 finalMy Deepest Thanks to Everyone 

The above is a favorite photo from my trip in February to film the Monarchs. This week we will be bringing you the short interview film with Tom Emmel at the summit of the Sierra Chincua Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve!

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WOW and DOUBLE WOW!!! Today we totaled the excel spread sheet and placed the order for our wildflower seeds. I hope everything is fully in stock, and if all is, the seeds should be arriving by early next week! I thought everyone would be interested to know our amazing grand totals:

Marsh Milkweed Packets: 36 Marsh Milkweed 1 Ounce Quantity: 21 Common Milkweed Packets: 74 Common Milkweed 1 Ounce Quantity: 11 Pink New England Asters: 58 Purple New England Asters: 44

A HUGE THANK YOU to EVERYONE participating in the Cape Ann Milkweed Project!

Below are several GMG posts with lots more information about the Cape Ann Milkweed Project. For more posts, type in the search word milkweed or Monarch Butterfly.

ORDER YOUR MILKWEED SEEDS TODAY!

Cape Ann Milkweed Project Continues ~ Plant Milkweed Seeds to Save the Monarchs

Setting the Table for a Regal Butterfly Comeback, With Milkweed

ORDER YOUR MILKWEED SEEDS TODAY!

The order for milkweed seeds and asters in being placed on Monday so please get your orders in before then. Thank you!

Thank you so very much to everyone participating in the Cape Ann Milkweed Project! Lots more good information to come!

Monarch Caterpillars Eating Common Milkweed ©Kim Smith 2012JPGMonarch Caterpillars Munching on Milkweed

Ordering information:

Please note that the milkweed seeds are available in two different species and two different quantities. Please place your order amounts in the comment section of this post as follows:

Your Name, Your Email Address (optional), and Seed Type and Quantity.

For Example:

Pippi Longstocking, villavillkula@gmail.com

1 Packet Common Milkweed  3.50

1 oz.  Marsh Milkweed 15.00

2 Packets Pink New England Aster @ 3.50 ea. =  7.00

My order total: $25.50

We are not collecting money ahead of time for the seeds. The orders are placed entirely by the honor system. Last year we did not have a single stiff and I will accept cash or check at the time of pick up. Seed pick up and information day will be Sunday, May 18th, from 9:30 to noon, at Captain Joe and Sons.

The packets of milkweed seeds (200-300 seeds) are perfect for a relatively smallish patch.

The larger ounce quantity is ideal for planting larger areas. On average, plan on 50 seeds per square foot. If your patch is 10 feet x 10 feet, that equals 100 square feet, and would require approximately 5,000 seeds.

Additionally, we are also offering pink and purple New England Aster seeds. I’ve never grown New England asters from seed, but have read that they are relatively easy to start (although slow to germinate). New England Asters make a beautiful border and will not only offer sustenance to southward migrating Monarchs, but in late summer also provide nectar for myriad species of bees and butterflies.

SEEDS

Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca

Seed Packet (300 seeds) 3.50

1 ounce (4900 seeds)  12.00

 

 Marsh Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata)

Seed packet (200 seeds)  3.50

1 oz. (5,200 seeds) 15.00

 

Pink New England Aster (Aster novae-angliae variation)

Seed Packet  (1000 seeds) 3.50

 

Purple New England Aster (Aster novae angliae)

Seed Packet (1750seeds) 3.50

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Why is it so important to plant milkweed for the Monarchs? Milkweed is the only food plant of the Monarch Butterfly caterpillar. The Monarch Butterfly migration is in serious peril due to loss of habitat in the United States by the use of Monsanto’s genetically modified Roundup Ready corn, soybean, and sorghum crops. Global climate change is also a factor in the diminishing migration. We can all help mitigate some of the destruction by planting milkweed and nectar-rich wildflowers.

Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) is the milkweed we see most typically growing in our dunes, meadows, roadsides, and fields. It grows quickly and spreads vigorously by underground runners. This is a great plant if you have an area of your garden that you want to devote entirely to milkweed. It prefers full sun, will tolerate some shade, and will grow in nearly any type of soil. The flowers are dusty mauve pink and have a wonderful honey-hay sweet scent.

monarch-caterpillars-common-milkweed-c2a9kim-smith-2011Common Milkweed and Monarch Caterpillars J-shape

Marsh Milkweed (Aclepias incarnata) is more commonly found in marshy areas, but grows beautifully in gardens. It does not care for dry conditions. These plants are very well-behaved and are more clump forming, rather than spreading by underground roots. The flowers are typically a brighter pink than Common Milkweed.

Monarch Butterfly marsh Milkweed ©Kim Smith 2012Marsh Milkweed and Monarch Butterfly

New England Aster (Aster novae-angliae) is a hardy late summer blooming perennial that grows approximately 36 inches to 60 inches. New England asters prefer wet to medium soil, grow well in full sun, and will tolerate part shade. 

New England Aster and Monarch Butterfly ©Kim Smith 2014New England Aster