These critters are visiting my yard this week. Monarchs are an amazing feature of the natural world. They migrate from Canada to the mountains of Michoacán, west of Mexico City, and in the fall they're here on their way south. The amazing thing is that they do this over several generations. The ones that arrive in Michoacán will be the descendants of the ones that left for the migration to Canada.
Like much of nature, they're threatened by us. Human destruction of their habitat is cutting their numbers drastically. So I'm doing my little bit to counteract that. This morning I went on Amazon and spent $3.80 for 100 common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) seeds which I'll plant this fall. The butterflies will dine on several types of flowers, but common milkweed is the only thing monarch caterpillars will eat.
Pretty amazing that the offspring know where they are going by instinct. Real amazing, being born, not knowing where they are but still being able to get from there to their destination. What are those butterflies that mimic Monarchs with their color pattern? I believe that Monarchs taste bitter to predators and the others avoid getting eaten by looking similar, or the other way around.
I believe that the mimics are call Viceroy butterflies.
It is very nice of Mr. Frugal to do that.
Our food pollinators are suffering from a lack of their food. Should many more pollinators disappear (think white nose bat disease, colony collapse bee disorder), lack of milkweed for the Monarchs, it is possible that our species (homo sapiens) will also decline in numbers.
I remember years ago when I was captaining a cruise boat on Lake Erie how thousands would be fluttering across the lake on their trek south to Mexico. Then one year they almost all got froze out in a freak weather episode. Haven't had near as many since. Our "fleet" of hummingbirds have also uprooted and gone to Mexico too. Getting lonely around here.
Great that you're planting the milkweed Steve...gives us an idea to imitate.
I have two hummingbird feeders at my house, and I have also noticed a decline in visits in the past week, they must be starting to migrate south.
I keep my feeders full until mid October to allow the transients on their way south to tank up during their journey.
Here is central Texas we use to see them literally by the droves but not any more.
We see down in the woods on our farm from time to time.
In the low areas of the creek that runs through our place in the fall they would congregate by the thousands and then a few days later move on Southward. I saw that a few times in the 50's and 60's and thought that was something.
Thinking about now it makes you wonder about whats happened to Horny Toads, Quail, Red ants, (yes Red Ants!) and the Monarchs.
They are around but getting few and far between in this area. BUT not the fire ants!!
"Totally OT: Monarchs"
I wondered if'n you were talking about butterflies or cars, until I saw the picture.
I was thinking wood stove!
Steve, Thanks for posting those great photographs. Have seen a few in north Texas this year.
Another thing that you can do to help Monarchs survive is to try to get rid of Black Swallow Wort, which is in invasive vine here in the Northeast (and probably elsewhere). It is poisonous to the larvae of the Monarch Butterfly and mimics Milkweed in that it's pods look similar and it distribute it's seeds in the same way as Milkweed.
They are amazing. There is also a western migration that overwinters along the coast of California rather than Mexico. I have seen groups of these and their numbers are just astonishing. California being what it is has protection sites set aside just for them and there are many people that help with maintaining their habitat.
Even with half our yard in wildflowers and cone flowers, my bride has planted the Monarchs' more preferred pink milkweed among them. Along with the Hummers, Finches, Chickadees and others, they also enjoy the Minarta. After Halloween, I'll mow everything down for the winter, some 10-10-10 fertilizer in the spring, and watch them all again next summer! Mark S., the Hummers are usually gone up here by around Labor Day, but I saw a straggler only three days ago. They still appreciate the feeder and long drinks!
I was visiting a friend from church this spring and she showed me some milkweed she had planted and it had Monarch's caterpillars on it. They actually breed in Lakeside, Ca. I went there to pick up some wood from fallen trees for my wood stove.
Between my house and the Late Ralph Ricks house is the Monarch Park. The butterflys frequent this area and is not unusual to see a large cluster of them hanging from the Eucalyptus trees.
The funeral service for RDR was held in this park. It's a wonderful reminder of Nature hearing and seeing the Canada Goose and Monarchs when they visit here every year.
My wife has turned the grounds around our home into a wild bird sanctuary. Being very protected and sheltered we have installed a number of bird houses, feeders and bathing opportunities.
The gold finch is our state bird and quite rare. Candy found by mixing a special blend of seed, that has attracted many goldfinches. This summer almost 15 at 1 time. Because of the rarity and change of habitat if you see 1 or 2 during the summer that is incredible. To see those numbers is beyond expectations.
She has also attracted a number of other wild birds from Blue Harrons, Jays and even a very rare to our area) red cardinal. What started out as an experiment has turned in to a sanctuary for any bird that drops in. There must a sign up there with an arrow "Free Food and drink" because they do show up. It is fun to watch them come and go flit around and of course even fight over the rations.
It is great to see how with a little effort you can help out mother nature and her flock. It only takes a little effort to make a difference, try it.
Goldfinches are not rare here in central New England. We see them every day. They love Sunflower seeds, and when the Sunflowers that we plant flower, we have many of them on the blossoms pecking at the seeds. They year-round here, but their color fades in the winter.
John we have goldfinches and "purple" finches..they look more red to us... also..by the droves. Didn't know they like sunflower seeds. May have to try that...we've always thought it was "only" nyger seed, which is getting expensive, plus the stupid sparrows now perch on the finch feeder and pig out also. We go through 10 lbs. of seed every 10-12 days! Our goldfinches are already fading...hope that doesn't necessarily mean an early winter!
Go one step farther and band them like George DeAngelis of Model A fame did for years. After getting his milk weed garden established he began banding the butterflies and keep a record on the migrations ( banding consist of putting a small numbered sticker on their wing and keeping a log book).
I hear about this eastern Canada-to-Mexico migration, but what are the Monarchs doing that
I see around Spokanistan ? Do ALL Monarchs gravitate to Michoacán ?
And what about this "milkweed". We have many varieties of weed around these parts that
people commonly call "milkweed". What specifically do Monarchs require ? Steve, can you
post a better picture showing the actual plant and foliage ?
Back when the kids were young, we bought a package of sunflower seeds and grew a dozen
or so giant head sunflowers. Being something of an organic gardener, I just let the birds have
the seeds and through natural distro we had oodles of them come up the next year, but with
multiple heads that were half the size as the first year. The next year they had morphed even
further back away from their hybrided state to what wild sunflowers look like. 20 years on, they
come up everywhere around my neighborhood and many friends take the heads each year and
spread the flock far and wide. In late August the gold finches show up in droves and stay until
the weather really starts into the cold season.
Also, there is a migration wintering sight in SoCal just north of L.A.
Another timely & important OT thread - MTFCA amazes me every time .....
Check out @ https://www.livemonarch.com/free-milkweed-seeds.htm
Jim..thanks for that link! Think I'll get some seeds. I didn't realize that the Monarchs are still in a state of "emergency" decline! We would hate to see the poor little things totally disappear!
Ed, banding sounds good, but wow I would think it'd be hard to get near enough of one let alone grab it without harming it, they're so fragile. It must work though, if you're careful.
Speaking of OT; I had a preying mantis land on my tractor yesterday, I don’t see those very often. They'd be scary critters if they were big.
Mark, now I will be afraid to take the dogs out to the kennel at night in the DARK!
Did the leading man in the movie look familiar? He's Willaim Hopper, who played Paul Drake, Perry Mason's detective assistant.
Common milkweed (Asclepias Syriaca) is native east of the Rockies, but is now found in parts of the West too, accounting for West Coast Monarchs.
Development and the spread of chemical agriculture have wiped out much of it, leading to a sharp decline in Monarch population. The adult butterflies dine on many other plants, but propagate only on common milkweed, and it's the only food of Monarch caterpillars.
Mark: I will have to take notice as we now are getting reruns of the Perry Mason show. Caught a short segment of Superman yesterday, where Jimmy Olson was given one million dollars for saving a ladies cat. WOW! No one could figure out Clark Kent was Superman and/or Superman was Clark Kent? It was believable in the ‘50s!
We have a piece of hillside hay field ~1 acre that doesn't get harvested and has turned out to be a good place for wild milkweed (and other hayfield pest weeds) to grow. However, we do brush hog it twice a summer to keep the scrub from creeping in and before the weeds go to seed. I still don't want the scrub coming in, but have always thought of mowing as a hardship on the Monarchs. Any suggestions as to when would be a time to mow, after the Monarchs are done with it?
I grew up knowing milkweed to be the plants with the pods filled with silk. But like the one pictured above, where we live now we have the pink flowered version and I never see a pod. Must be different varieties?
I wonder what the habits of Monarchs were 200-300 years ago when most of the land we now know as open fields, besides the western plains, was forest. I've never come across milkweed in the woods. Perhaps as the passenger pigeon was dwindling in population, the Monarch was enjoying an unexpected boom? I suppose it is as tends to frequently happen, science sets a benchmark on what they supposedly "know" and reality's frame of reference gets skewed for the rest of us.
This summer seems to have been a good one for Monarchs around here. Some years we might see a few while we're out and about. This year it was dozens. It would be amazing to witness a swarm.
For more information:
Steve: Thanks again !
At the risk of dragging this post out forever, while at a car show today at the Ottawa County Wildlife Refuge center a "critter rescue" outfit that just also happens to be about 5 miles from me, was there per usual with their display. This year they did a Monarch butterfly release three different times, with a brief tutorial on the Monarchs. Very nice to watch them flutter away. Clarabelle, my '13 garnered Best in Class (antique).
That photo above is NOTHING like what locals call "milkweed" 'round here.
Interesting. I think I'll bring this up with our County Extension guys and see
what they know about the subject.
Last February we took a trip to Kauai and stayed with some folks that had an Orchid growing and selling operation. In their shop was a Monarch butterfly population in an outdoor room for customers to get up close and personal. Very interesting creatures !! I took that close up with my iPhone.
There are about 200 species of milkweed, so it wouldn't surprise me if one of them is found in eastern Washington. But apparently if it's not Asclepias syriaca it's not Monarch caterpillar food.
Interesting. Saw this thread a few days ago and opened my paper this morning to see this:
Saw this thread over the weekend and opened my paper this morning to read this:
Sorry. Forum told me the first one didn't post. Forum fibbed. Bad forum!
That's OK Dick, the link doesn't work for me today anyway.
Link doesn't work. Bad link !
"I'm not sure how you reached this page, but whatever you were looking for isn't here. Sorry about that."
Hmmm... I'll try again.
http://www.stltoday.com/news/local/govt-and-politics/monsanto-joins-group-giving -m-toward-monarch-butterfly-protection/article_05d81f86-72b3-5c28-8712-49224907b 540.html
That one seems to work.
Is the company saying ...
our chemicals are causing the demise of many creatures...here's some money to appease you and let us continue making more money! ???
Just read in todays in todays paper of a preservation effort by the National Fish and Wildlife Federation to help in saving the Monarchs. Several states along the migration routes will be getting grants to help in the effort.
Back in the 1950's and 60's the Monarch Butterfly's would cover my Grand mothers Iris plants in September. I still have one frozen in a jar of ice in my Freezer dated September 1969.
When I was young in the 1930's - 1940'S, Texas was covered in Milkweed, we never did anything to harm it except mow some of the pastures, so poisons should not have affected it. We had to be careful with our milk cow, and keep her in a trap pasture that didn't have Milkweed, or you couldn't drink the milk. I live out in the country (Gillespie County) and up until about five years ago, we had Milkweed and Monarchs, now we never see a Monarch and the Milkweed is about gone. And (thanks Mr. Kuehn) the old time Honey Bees are long gone too, as are Horned Toads, Red Ants, Quail, etc. I was fortunate enough to visit the Monarch Winter nesting grounds in Mexico long ago, a sight you will not forget, but, they had begun to log off the trees even then (1960's) so that too may be history. I am not too far behind all of this, and will soon be gone also, but it is a puzzlement.
And so will we all, Grady, some of us sooner than others. I'm glad you're still with us. I always enjoy your comments.