Monarchs

Monarch Stations

What is a Monarch Station? It is a garden that has multiple Milkweed plants or entire areas set aside for Milkweed. These locations will attract the Monarch Butterfly and they will lay eggs on the plants and the adults will feed on the nectar from the flowers.

So since we write about this stuff, we also have to actually create the things we talk about. This year we lost a very large pine tree that allowed another part of the garden to have much more sun that it had previously.

Here we have planted over 100 Milkweed seedlings from 9 different species. This will help feed the caterpillars we normally get from the garden as in 2010 we had so many caterpillars we used all of our milkweed.

We purchased all of our Milkweed seeds at Butterfly Encounters. Their Milkweed seed is packaged very well and all germinated very quickly.

Prices are good and shipping costs were nominal and all product arrived quickly and in great shape.

We highly recommend this website and their product


Butterfly Encounters

The Monarch Butterfly for those of you who do not know, performs one of natures most incredible migrations. The species traveling over 3000 miles to reach their final winter destination. This type of migration is generally left to the birds and mammals. But in the insect world, the Monarch reigns supreme.

West Coast Monarchs begin the migration south from Canada and Northern California to rest in sights they have selected and adapted to that has its own perfect micro climate in order to survive the winter. When I was a boy, it was thought that they all migrated to areas around Santa Cruz and Monterrey. Now they have found many sights from Fremont Ca, to Baja. But the numbers of Monarchs each year dwindles.

East coast Monarchs fly from Canada south, laying eggs on Milkweed and that generation flying to valleys in a small section of Mexico. Here habitat destruction is an issue. But the larger issue is that there are not as many returning Monarchs to these locations due to habitat destruction in the north. The generation that makes it to Mexico has never been there before, its location is built into the insects genetic code. In the spring it will fly north and lay eggs on milkweed in the southern United states and these generations will grow into adults and re-populate the north to start the process all over once again in the fall.

But habitat destruction each year yields smaller amounts of Milkweed species available to the generations that must fly to Mexico or north to start anew. Thus the issue, the Monarch population is dwindling. Here is where the home gardener can help. Luckily, many people are huge fans of butterflies, especially the Monarch Butterfly. And Milkweed, virtually the only plant the Monarch larva eat, is a great addition to the perennial flower garden. Adding just a few can bring the Monarchs and other butterflies into your garden. Milkweed is a great nectar flower and attracts many butterflies that feed on nectar. But only the Monarch Butterfly lays eggs on it for its larva.

Plant dozens of Milkweed and you can easily have hundreds of Monarch Caterpillars. They themselves are incredible. Yellow, Black and White Stripes with two little black hair like appendages on each end of the larva. A magnificent little animal.

The chrysalis is a true work of art. Emerald green with tiny gold dots on a black stem. Turns crystal clear when the butterfly is about to emerge so you can see the entire butterfly prior to its hatching.