Monarchs are Around!

docmom_gw Zone 5 MI(5)July 13, 2014

I was visiting Madison, WI and found a stray 2" milkweed sprout in a commercial garden with an egg on it. There wasn't enough milkweed around to support a growing cat, so I brought it home to raise. Today, I was out searching for ripening seeds and found a 3rd-instar Monarch cat on my infant Poke Milkweed. And yesterday I saw an adult Monarch flying in my sister's garden. Not droves, but I'm seeing more than I expected, with the numbers as low as they are. I hope the weather is helpful and that the monarchs we have are able to find nectar sources on their trip back south. My liatris, New England Asters and Iron Weed all look good so far.

Martha

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Leafhead

Excellent, Martha :)
I've been seeing one to two Monarch ELFs at a time for the last week now, and as of yesterday they were joined by a nice new male. The ELFs have moved on, and this fella has taken his place among the Milkweeds and Valerian blooms. I have a bunch of little cats on my Milkweed and more eggs to go :-)>
Also one to two at my friend Terrence's (my gardening buddy).
Monarchs seem to be holding their own here.

John

    Bookmark   July 13, 2014 at 12:42PM
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tucker_sp(Z4 MN)

I've finally seen several females around our milkweed here in MN, but no cats observed yet - still hoping.

Tucker

    Bookmark   July 13, 2014 at 1:16PM
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treehugger101

I finally saw one monarch drinking on roadside milkweed blooms. I have been scouring a 4 mile radius around our property while collecting common milkweed for my 8 purchased cats. We have not seen one egg or cat. Sounds like Martha and John are lucking out though!

    Bookmark   July 13, 2014 at 4:26PM
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Ruth_MI(z5MI)

I'm so glad to read this and at least know some are around. It's been so "empty" here...only a very occasional butterfly and hardly any bees. It feels strange. Last year at this time, butterflies and bees were swarming my zinnias and Quick Fire hydrangeas.

I went for a walk in a public area near my house and saw that there was quite a bit of asclepias tuberosa in bloom. But I only saw two swallowtails on my whole walk. I'm still hoping the next month will bring more, but I'm probably going to be disappointed.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2014 at 9:39PM
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docmom_gw Zone 5 MI(5)

The lack of bumble bees is frightening for me. My bird feeders have been far busier this year than ever before, and I worry that the birds aren't finding enough insect food to keep them going. So, they are depending on the seeds in my feeders. Without pollinators, there won't be seeds for them in the wild, once winter arrives. I haven't heard any reports from farmers of less productivity, but it might be early for them to tell.

Martha

    Bookmark   July 14, 2014 at 6:05AM
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tom123_gw

This may sound strange, since it's mid-summer, but it is still early in some respects. It will take a while to recover from the terrible winter that most of you had.

In a hummingbird forum that I frequent this was a recent thread. Many in the upper mid-west are reporting less pollinators, while those of us in Florida and some other places are reporting more pollinators than ever. I think that many are still making the trip north.

Here in Central Florida I have more pollinators than ever, including butterflies and hummingbirds. I hope that those of you further north soon start seeing more.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2014 at 7:45AM
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treehugger101

Martha, I am in PA. Early on, we had zero bees. So we planted 15 May Night Salvia and Royal Candles. Within a few days of blooms, we were covered in bees. We counted 4 different kinds of bumblebees, honeybees and others for a total of 23-25 bees on each plant! Now that the May Night Salvias have almost stopped blooming, about half of the bees have gone again. So it seems they are just going where the preferred nectar sources are at any one time. We have many extensive flower gardens but they love that May Night Salvia best followed by Valerian and Delphiniums. Echinacea and Rudbeckia are next in line. Maybe someone new might find this useful.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2014 at 8:12AM
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docmom_gw Zone 5 MI(5)

Thanks for the reassurance, Treehugger (love your handle) and Tom. I've been on vacation and driving thru the Midwest this week. My personal observations haven't been encouraging, so it's great to hear others are seeing a better picture. I'll just continue to plant and collect seed to support whomever else is working toward fixing the problem. So, comforting to have this group to visit with.

Martha

    Bookmark   July 17, 2014 at 8:24AM
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treehugger101

Martha, Because of you, John and others here on this awesome forum, I am finishing a small garden tomorrow. It is only 12' x 8' but it is a start. I planted Cosmos, Zinnia and Meadow Blazing Star (Liatris). Several Tropical Milkweeds are in a huge pot. Swamp milkweed is in pots next to that and the Ironweed is in a huge pot also.My Rue comes this week. Once I figure out how to lay it all out it, the potted plants will go in ground. The seeds I am getting from John will help me to expand this. Thanks to you, one more garden is planted for the butterflies. It's tiny but it will grow! Keep the faith!!!

    Bookmark   July 17, 2014 at 12:27PM
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Ruth_MI(z5MI)

I've started seeing a lot more bees and wasps the past few days. Now I'm hoping that butterflies aren't far behind.

I've been walking in our subdivision and have noticed that a few people have common milkweed growing in their front gardens among the other flowers. Between that, the a. tuberosa close by, and my two a. incarnata that survived the insect attack, there should be plenty of host plants for monarchs.

Also, I looked at my picture dates and realized I didn't find Monarch cats until early August last year (unless it was the very end of July). I took pictures of the cages I built for them on 8/4/13. So I'm holding out hope for 2014!

    Bookmark   July 17, 2014 at 1:04PM
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msmorningsong(SW FL 10A)

As Tom123 said, perhaps it was your cold winter. One can always hope. I've mentioned in another thread, seeing less st's than normal, but am loaded in other butterflies. As far as bees and other beneficials, loaded down with them. Huge black and yellow bumblebees dive-bombing ruellia each morning, and plenty of nectar-eating wasps and regular bees, honeybees, ground dwellers, etc.
So maybe, as he mentioned, it is a bit early to say and they will be visiting soon. :)

    Bookmark   July 17, 2014 at 4:24PM
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misssherry(Z8/9SE MS)

I think the cold winter had an effect on my pollinators, for sure! I've had fewer bees this year than ever before. Even when my button bush was in full bloom, there were few bees on it.
I've only seen one monarch this year, and that was in spring - it was probably migrating northward.
I sometimes get monarch eggs and caterpillars in late summer and/or fall, probably when they're migrating back. I've got some milkweed, so I hope to see them.
In the meantime, good luck to the rest of you with your monarchs!

Sherry

    Bookmark   July 17, 2014 at 5:03PM
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