No Monarch eggs/cats yet this year

jrcagle(z7 MD)July 27, 2010

Except for one cat found in the wild, I've had NO Monarch eggs or cats this year. This despite a large stand of Swamp Milkweed. Last year at this time, I had 46 individuals already.

I've seen a couple of adult Monarchs in the yard over the last two days, very fresh-looking, so I haven't given up hope yet.

I'm wondering though about the plants. The more mature plants are showing signs of heat stress (yellow or reddish leaves), while the younger plants are fine.

Is it possible that the Monarchs are somehow detecting signs of stress (perhaps a specific chemical) and simply passing the plants by?


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runmede(7a Virginia)

I think we didn't get our Monarchs this year because Florida had a very hard freeze last year. We get most of our Monarchs from those that winter over in Florida.

There's a new theory on migration, too.

I participated in this study. I sent a few Monarchs and milkweed from two locations in my area.

Here is a link that might be useful: Canadian Study on Monarch Migration

    Bookmark   July 27, 2010 at 11:53AM
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jrcagle(z7 MD)

That's a neat study.

I'm confused by your comment about Florida. I thought our population (in MD) was from the Mexico site? I thought that the Florida population stays put.

For example, OE is very rare in my population, while quite common in the Fla population.


    Bookmark   July 27, 2010 at 1:35PM
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Same thing here in Memphis. Last year a monarch laid about 100 eggs the first week of April (when the milkweed was only about six inches out of the ground). This year I still haven't seen a single egg or caterpillar, and our milkweed looks like it's about done. I even planted milkweed seeds this year for the first time because I had such a hard time finding enough milkweed locally to keep the caterpillars fed in 2009.


    Bookmark   July 27, 2010 at 9:55PM
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docmom_gw Zone 5 MI(5)

I don't think we can hope to understand all the variables responsible for the variations each of us see in our butterfly populations from year to year. I've had a lush garden of three different varieties of milkweed and constant nectar sources for three years, but had a max of 5 Monarch cats per season--and those didn't show up until late August. Suddenly, already this year, I can't walk outside without finding eggs or cats. And there are Monarchs flying in my yard constantly. Go figure.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2010 at 10:22PM
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There were reports of poor weather in central Mexico last winter, and I read about monarch butterflies that froze to death. It was thought that very few monarchs would migrate north this spring. But, there was also heavy rainfall in Texas over the winter, ending a drought. There is more monarch activity in our yard this summer than I have seen in several years. My best guess is that a few monarchs made it to Texas, Oklahoma, and Missouri, and found an abundance of flowering plants including milkweed. The monarch population seems to have rebounded. But it took extra time, and they have not yet made their way to the east coast.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2010 at 11:55AM
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terrene(5b MA)

Very true, haven't seen a single Monarch adult, egg, or cat all season anywhere here in eastern Mass! I know a couple people who live within 30 miles who claim to have seen a couple, so apparently there are Monarchs scattered around. Also, a couple posters on the winter-sowing forum who are just over the border into Canada are raising them already.

I really hope a few will show up and lay eggs for me this season!

    Bookmark   July 29, 2010 at 1:15AM
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butterflymomok(7a NE OK)

Don't give up hope! I released 12 butterflies yesterday that took off for your destinations.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2010 at 10:22AM
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i also haven't seen but a few addition i've seen an explosion of swallowtails like never before. mostly eastern tigers.......but there is at least 4 or 5x more than i have ever seen. at any one time in my yard i can walk around and count maybe 75 of them. really unusual. is it the heat? anyone else seen this?

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   July 30, 2010 at 7:56PM
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KC Clark - Zone 2012-6a OH

I'm having my best butterfly year since I bought this house in early 2005. Seeing way more of the usual butterflies (monarchs, QMs, RAs, BSTs, blues, skippers, GSFs, sulfurs and RSPs). Got tiger and giant swallowtails for the first time ever (and tigers keep flying through). Wednesday, I saw a buckeye for the first time ever. Only previously seen butterfly missing is a zebra swallowtail. They have been here before but it has been a couple years since I've seen one breeze through.

The monarchs have been leaving me a lot of eggs. I just bring in the ones that happen to be on leaves that I picked for caterpillar food.


    Bookmark   July 31, 2010 at 2:08AM
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rsingley(z6a NJ)

I too have seen a significant drop in Monarchs and have not seen a single egg or cat. I have looked in upstate NY, the Adirondacks in and near Lake Placid, at the Jersey Shore near Cape May and around my home in North NJ.

I planted swamp milkweed and joe pye weed in hopes of attracting more butterflies to my yard but so far the butterfly population has been down. IMO

    Bookmark   July 31, 2010 at 7:59AM
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I am also in eastern MA and have had quite a few monarchs! I was very pleasantly surprised to see a healthy population this year. I've released about 20 so far and currently have 5 chrysalises and 6 cats. I could probably find many more eggs/cats, but I don't have the setup to handle more.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2010 at 8:51AM
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I think if I read the info on the study correctly, it is saying that another route of migration for Monarchs is from the Mid-west to the north atlantic states. This is in addition from the gulf states. Is the Florida route confirmed? At Monarch Watch the map has a question mark on migration from Florida.

We have our first large wave in Ohio. We have seen Monarchs pretty consistently since early summer but always in low numbers (one or two). Right now we are seeing larger numbers. So, maybe you should be seeing them soon?


    Bookmark   July 31, 2010 at 4:26PM
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jrcagle(z7 MD)

Just got the first twelve Monarch eggs of the season this morning.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2010 at 4:44PM
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terrene(5b MA)

Puffkit, that is a lovely picture. Sitali, you can't be far from me - can you please send some over my way?

    Bookmark   July 31, 2010 at 7:05PM
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runmede(7a Virginia)

A very fresh looking female was nectaring and laying all day today. I can't take in all the eggs. Development has taken away many of the wild patches of milkweed where I live.

I am netting and stumping the European Paperwasp. The Pipevine Swallowtails having finally been able to stay on their vines and eat. I also have two extra large critter keepers full in my house, too. Boy are they loud eaters.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2010 at 10:11PM
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newbie_in_nj(6b E/Central NJ)

Not a single Monarch egg or cat so far this year. Haven't even seen a Monarch butterfly.

Milkweed (incarnata & tuberosa) blooms came and went without any eggs being laid. Every time I saw a little nibbling it ended up being a slug...that deservedly died after ingesting the milkweed.

Have Yellow Tiger Swallowtails nectaring all over Eupatorium maculatum (big Joe Pye Weed...what a sight.

Saw a Black Swallowtail yesterday nectaring from early blooming Lobelia siphilitica (Great Blue) but I couldn't shoosh it over to the giant Bronze Fennel. Couldn't see if it was male or female anyway but I can always hope.

My Zinnias that survived the deer last year had such disgustingly infected foliage it didn't seem like it was worth growing them to attract the butterflies this year.
Won't make that mistake next spite of deer eating and disgusting foliage I'll plant Zinnia if for nothing other than all the skippers that loved the flowers and didn't mind the disgusting foliage.

Maybe later this month or September we'll get an influx if Monarchs were interrupted by adverse conditions along the way North. Just hope I can keep the milkweed from disappearing due to leaf spotting/yellowing. Six weeks of hot (90-100F) and humid weather didn't do them any good.

Glad some of you are having success. Better some than none wherever it is.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2010 at 1:02PM
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I live in Nova Scotia, Canada on a peninsula. This year I am overun by Monarch caterpillars and loving every minute of it.

Mind you, I have not seen a Monarch in my gardens. I have been out there all weekends and not one, but then again I work during the week. That's when they show-up according to my 15 year old daughter who gathers food for the inside cats at midday. She even took a photo to prove it to me. :O)

    Bookmark   August 1, 2010 at 2:32PM
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jeanner(SW Ohio - Z6)

I had a few singles a few weeks back and I have about 2 dozen cats from their visit. This weekend I am seeing the wave that Elisabeth is talking about (we live within a few miles of each other). I'm watching them lay even more eggs and I am wondering how in the world I am going to keep up with them all! I may have to liberate some milkweed from the roadside .... I'm just worried that will net even more eggs and cats.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2010 at 8:15PM
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I've had few adult monarchs and even fewer caterpillars. Not only that but all my asclepias are in great condition. No milkweed bugs, beetles, aphids, tussock moth cats, nothing, which is very odd and I don't use insecticides, haven't for at least 15 years. There's no decline in the number of swallowtails and skippers.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2010 at 9:36PM
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I wasn't looking for eggs/cats before last week, but I found probably about 40 or 50 when I looked. I didn't bring all of them in to raise because I just don't have enough milkweed. I replaced all of my swamp milkweed with tropical milkweed in the spring and with the horribly dry and hot weather we had for a month, the milkweed plants were just barely hanging on; as a matter of fact, I probably lost about 1/3 of them. I usually raise hundreds of Monarchs every year but won't this year because of the sparseness of milkweed and also because I really have to get some other things done. I have so much weeding to do that I honestly don't have the time to raise a lot of cats. It's a Catch 22...I planted a ton of host and nectar plants for many different kinds of butterflies over the past 5 years, but now I have so much weeding to do that the caterpillars get ignored. I wish there were some wonderful solution to my weeding problem, but I know there isn't.

I spotted my first Monarch of the year on June 24 but I couldn't tell if it was a male or a female from where I was. I hope more people start seeing Monarchs soon.


    Bookmark   August 1, 2010 at 9:37PM
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runmede(7a Virginia)

There's a swamp milkweed that blooms later. It is Asclepias incarnata pulchra. I have it growing in a hedge. It is a buzz with activity. The leaves are wider and more tender and it blooms later. This picture was taken July 17.

Here is a link that might be useful: USDA Plant Profile for Asclepias incarnata pulchra

    Bookmark   August 1, 2010 at 10:13PM
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terrene(5b MA)

Runmede that is a nice ssp of A. incarnata. Do you mind having all those buzzing bees and wasps near the walkway? Are you planning to collect seed and would you be willing to share some for postage?

It seems like feast or famine for Monarchs this year...I still haven't seen a single butterfly let alone egg or cat. Thre is lots of nice milkweed for them in the gardens too - A. incarnata, A. syriaca, A. curassavica, and even some A. verticillata that has pretty bushy foliage for its thin leaves and is getting ready to bloom for the first time.

Would anyone be willing to send some eggs via mail? I've done many seed exchanges, and a few plants via mail, but not had any experience with butterfly eggs via mail. No problem providing shipping materials and postage, or whatever is the norm. I am dying to raise a few this year, a pregnant female might still show up, but maybe not!

    Bookmark   August 2, 2010 at 11:22AM
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runmede(7a Virginia)

No I wouldn't mind sharing some seeds later. A. incarnata pulchra does not need a cold treatment to germinate. I should have some seeds by September. Just email me off list. My email is in my member page.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2010 at 2:11PM
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runmede(7a Virginia)

I actually put in some fencing to make the plants stand up straighter and trimmed the evergreen on the left. I wish those bees and wasp would keep people selling stuff away from my front door. I don't use my front door much. We have an entrance in the garage. I've not had problems with the wasp and bees, but this morning I did get a bumble bee in my hair. It wasn't its fault. I was bending over looking for eggs and sweeped it up into my hair. I ran wildly shaking my hair out. Yes, the neighbors do think I'm crazy. My new neighbor has been trying to get rid of his weeds, which is a joke because my yard keeps seeding over into his-- ; ) My yard is full of weeds.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2010 at 2:20PM
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Terrene, I sent you an email through ivillage. Perhaps I am close enough that I could get some eggs to you. At least if I were to mail them they wouldn't have to go far and they wouldn't cross state lines (not sure if that's an issue).

    Bookmark   August 2, 2010 at 10:07PM
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terrene(5b MA)

Hey Runmede, I've had good luck with winter-sowing A. incarnata. It would be great to try growing your subspecies to extend the bloom season. I will try to remember and email you in another month or so.

Hi Sitali, answered your email. I would love to get some eggs if you have extras.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2010 at 12:03AM
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I found my first batch of about 14 monarch eggs July 30th. I also found a small monarch caterpillar. Each year it seems they show up a little later!

    Bookmark   August 4, 2010 at 12:30PM
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