There are definitely two Monarch butterflies in our backyard. We have been seeing them fluttering back and forth among the pink milkweed plants, or flying in tandem up and down. As soon as I got home yesterday, they swung by the glass patio door, challenging me to come out and take their pictures.
While driving at the Edwin B Forsythe Wildlife Refuge this past Sunday, I saw a few Monarch butterflies from time to time. What made me stop and take the following pictures is the intense orange of the milkweed flowers (Asclepias Tuberosa) which perfectly matched the Monarch’s colors. There were many other weeds around the area, but the Monarchs did not mind.
Three years ago, I planted pink milkweed, Asclepias Incarnata, in the back of our house to attract and help Monarch butterflies, whose number has been in decline in recent years. The first year several came, and then there were Monarch caterpillars crawling on the milkweed plants. Then after a few days they disappeared, maybe eaten by the many birds flying around our bird feeder. Last year, not one single Monarch showed up.
This year, at least one did appear, captured in the following photos.
The Monarch butterfly or butterflies that visited our milkweed plants must have laid some eggs. Last week I found several Monarch caterpillars crawling and munching on the plants.
However, after a few days they disappeared one at a time, even after new ones were hatched. Today, there are none left. I would like to think they became Monarch butterflies, but I am very afraid that the birds got them before they could do that. Perhaps I should put some netting over the plants as a barrier against birds, but it may already be too late for this year.
Yesterday, in this post, I told you that I was hoping Monarch butterflies will come to the milkweed that I planted from seed this spring. Milkweed (Asclepias) are vital host plants for Monarchs. Their caterpillars only eat milkweed, and the butterflies then lay their eggs on the plants.
This morning, by chance, I peeked out of my office window and saw a butterfly hovering over the milkweed. I grabbed my camera, went out and took the following pictures of our first Monarch as it kept flying in and out of the milkweed. Truly, plant it and they will come!
The gradual disappearance of milkweed, due to urban development, is one of the main causes for the decline in Monarch population. More of us should be planting milkweed to help these pretty butterflies.
Amy’s response to this week’s challenge inspired me to dig up the following photos of Monarch butterflies feasting on goldenrods. I took them four years ago at the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge in Virginia. Monarch butterflies seem to be disappearing, and they need all the help we can give them.