Beat Up Female Monarch Butterfly

MonarchHelpMay 11, 2014

This is a female monarch butterfly I found this morning in my garden laying eggs on my milkweed. I can only imagine the journey this poor female had to take to find my milkweed patch.I see more females in such bad shape and think they have hard time finding any milkweed, so they have to travel far/search harder.

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davessels

That is just amazing. You don't say where you are located, I would love to know how far North you are. Thank you for planting milkweed for the Monarchs. I have some, and I hope some second generation Monarchs might find it next month maybe?

    Bookmark   May 11, 2014 at 3:00PM
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MonarchHelp

I am actually in Tampa, FL and I am also very curious where these females are coming from. Over the past 3 years I have been seeing more and more this type of "beat-up" females coming in to lay eggs.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2014 at 3:58PM
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runmede(7a Virginia)

They are possibly coming across the gulf. Then there are some that winter over in Florida and then travel North. Another possibility is they are getting caught in a storm.

Here is a link that might be useful: A STUDY OF THE PENINSULAR FLORIDA POPULATIONS OF THE MONARCH BUTTERFLY (DANAUS P. PLEXIPPUS; DANAIDAE)

    Bookmark   May 11, 2014 at 8:09PM
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davessels

Thanks runmede,
I really had no idea. I just know they migrate from Mexico up threw Texas and East, but I did not know if they might migrate from the Bahamas, or Cuba ect.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2014 at 11:17PM
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runmede(7a Virginia)

Small populations of Monarchs winter over in South Carolina, Georgia, MS, LA, FL, TX, AL, AZ, and CA. And in 2005 a few wintered over at Virginia Beach, VA. Monarchs have many strategies for survival.

Some Monarchs lay eggs on their way south in the fall even through Mexico. Now we are told this is due to the planting of tropicals. If that was the case with tropical milkweed being native to Mexico, then why do the Monarchs bother going to the reserve in the fall and then returning to the US and Canada to breed in the spring.

The Monarchs also lay from Mexico to the US and Canada during the Spring. Page 36-37 of "The Monarch Butterfly, International Traveler" by Dr. Fred Urquhart. "As a result of the monarch eggs being thus disseminated over a considerable distance from Mexico to the more northern areas, together with the time interval between the first egg laid and the last one, there occur populations of larvae across North America [North America includes Mexico, the United States and Canada] in different stages of development."

    Bookmark   May 11, 2014 at 11:37PM
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davessels

Thanks runmede,
I think I must get the book by Dr. Fred Urquhart! I am very new to this, but very invested now. Whether I ever have Monarchs here or not, I am very interested in their migration. It just fascinates me, I am hoping my milkweed may attract some on the return flight to Mexico in the late summer, early fall.
I do appreciate all of your knowledge and sharing. I have planted A Incarnata, and have more coming to share with family. And hope to plant more native this summer, fall.
Debra

    Bookmark   May 11, 2014 at 11:52PM
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runmede(7a Virginia)

There is such a deficit of milkweed, that I recommend planting it all. Natives take a while to become established. Some people don't want to have to deal with perennials because they don't bloom long enough. I encourage people to plant any type of milkweed whether it be tropical or native. It is ridiculous to try to use logic to try to figure out why scientists would think that adding tropical would be a problem. Ridiculous when native Mexico tropical milkweed is some of the first native milkweed that Monarchs encounter on their way north through Mexico and some of the last they encounter on their way south through Mexico. The native tropical in Mexico isn't new, it has been there for ages. Ages of using Mexican tropical milkweed on their journey to and from Mexico as part of their migration. I'd like to see Mexico adding more milkweed to the migration route. Mexico is not just a place where Monarchs go to spend the winter.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2014 at 12:17AM
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davessels

Well said runmede, I agree with you on the tropical milkweed. Didn't we go through something similar to this with baby formula years ago? Not that I am comparing a babies health to butterflies, but really! I will plant any kind of milkweed and grow any kind of seed if helps the Monarchs and other butterflies and bees. I am south enough that when it is time for them to go south, I doubt they will be hanging around on my tropical milkweed. I would just be honored to have some eggs on mine this summer. Maybe what I am missing is some native Mexican Tropical Milkweed.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2014 at 12:44AM
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docmom_gw Zone 5 MI(5)

Debra,
I would encourage you to plant lots of nectar sources, as well as the milkweeds. I have liatris ligualistylis that I grew from seed and it is a Monarch magnet during the fall migration. The migrating Monarchs need nectar sources to fuel their trip south. Last summer I saw very few Monarches, but the first week the liatris was in bloom, there was one on it every day. It may have even caused that Monarch to hang around for a while to store up energy/calories while it could. I have seeds from last fall, and I've noticed generous self seeding around the plants in my garden. I could even send you a division of a mature plant, so you'd have flowers this year, yet.

Martha

    Bookmark   May 12, 2014 at 8:13AM
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MonarchHelp

Thank you, runmede for all info, I should get that book also, sounds very interesting.

I cannot imagine this poor female going across the gulf! And she was very hungry too, spent all day feeding on nectar plants in my garden.

I also agree with you about tropicals,I think the situation is pretty desperate at this point and we need to plat both natives and tropicals.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2014 at 9:44AM
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misssherry(Z8/9SE MS)

Most of the females that visit my milkweeds and leave eggs have been at least a little beat up looking.
Considering the delicacy of butterfly wings, it probably doesn't take too much time and/or wear for them to become that way.

I certainly agree that people should plant more native milkweeds. If only we could get the highway departments to quit mowing, or, at least only do so in winter!

Sherry

    Bookmark   May 12, 2014 at 9:56AM
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davessels

Martha,
I have found some liatris ligualistylis plants at Prairie Nursery, the place I ordered my milk weed and seeds. I will order some, and there is also a liatris spp. that should be more native, I may get one of those as well. I do have a lot of nectar plants for the Monarchs, but, I do appreciate the heads up on something that is a "Monarch Magnet".. Thanks so much, Debra

    Bookmark   May 12, 2014 at 3:02PM
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roselee z8b S.W. Texas

DebraV and all interested, the 2011 Nova PBS program on Monarch migration was shown again on TV recently. Once again I was enthralled. If the link has been posted elsewhere recently please forgive me. I don't always read all the way down on the posts.

Here is a link that might be useful: You can watch the complete program here ....

    Bookmark   May 12, 2014 at 3:23PM
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davessels

roselee, I think it had been linked somewhere here before, and I meant to watch it, but this time I did. Yes, I was enthralled. There really are no words to describe the mystery behind this migration. It just makes me want to do what I can even more, if I could just feed one Monarch, or host one group of eggs on my milkweed, or even share some milkweed with family and neighbors, it would be worth the effort. Thanks for posting the link again.
I have saved it and will share it with my grandchildren, they loved having the Black Swallowtail cats to watch last summer. They are never too young to learn about nature, I hope this will be one thing I can educate them on, as my mother did with me.
Debra

    Bookmark   May 13, 2014 at 10:30PM
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