13 Monarch Eggs!!!

docmom_gw Zone 5 MI(5)July 20, 2014

Yesterday, I saw a Monarch adult flying around my yard and the surrounding neighborhood. I never saw it stop to rest or nectar at all, so didn't know whether it was male or female. But, today, I made a search of my milkweeds, and found 13 eggs on my unknown milkweed that grows in my shadiest bed. Every egg was on the tiniest sprouts very near to the ground. None of the tall, mature plants had any eggs. I also checked my incarnata and tuberosa plants, but didn't find anything there, either. Last year, the only eggs I found were also on this shady milkweed. I have never seen it bloom, probably because it is in so much shade. It appears to spread by roots, and sends up single stalks rather than a group of stems like my incarnata seems to produce. I'm in the process of eradicating the Lily-of-the-Valley, English Ivy, Vinca Minor, Day Lilies, Poison Ivy and iris that make up most of this bed. There are also Jack-in-the-Pulpit, Trillim, Solomon's Seal, Viburnum, Goldenrod, and some shade-tolerant aster and other un identified plants. So, I'm trying to be careful to avoid the native, valuable plants, but if need to use chemicals to control the widespread noxious invaders. I also have a terrible Garlic Mustard invasion in a different part of the property that keeps me busy with both pulling and spraying.

Anyway, I am completely thrilled to have Monarchs to raise. Fortunately, I have plenty of incarnata in my own beds, plus endless Common Milkweed just up the road. I did grow curassavica in pots to have in case I got eggs to raise, but our spring and summer have been so cold and wet that growth has been very slow. I wish I could share these eggs with all of you. I promise to take meticulous care of them so I can release them to carry on.

I actually have a very early cat that is probably a week or ten days ahead of the eggs I just found. Does anyone think it would be possible for me to hang on to the older butterfly long enough for it to mate with one of the newer eggs. Then I could collect more eggs and raise them in a protected environment. But, they wouldn't be mating with their siblings. Would that be too long for the first butterfly to wait? As I think about it, that does seem a long time, when their lifespan is so short, anyway. Best to let nature do it's thing, at least to some extent. Wish me luck raising these guys.


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misssherry(Z8/9SE MS)

Congratulations and good luck, Martha!

I sure hope one of your babies goes by my house and lays some eggs on my milkweed/A. curassavica. It's grown well and could support some cats.

You've got what sounds like a beautiful shade garden! No way I'd get rid of trilliums if I was lucky enough to have them. They don't grow down here, have to go to the Tennessee/N.Carolina/Virginia/Georgia mountains to see them in the South. And those jack-in-the pupits are great, too. I have some here.

Again, congrats and good luck!


    Bookmark   July 20, 2014 at 2:48PM
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msmorningsong(SW FL 10A)

that is an observation I also see with the zebra longwings. They always pick the shadiest passionflower. I have plenty in the side yard where I have my expanding buttefly garden, but won't let my husband cut any that grows wild-anywhere.
So, in the front yard, that receives only morning sun, we have a palm that has a large established bed of p. incarnata. It is swimming in zebras, to the point they are crawling over one another, both cats and adults. It's lovely to see. I am such a bad photographer, so please just imagine.
You have me wondering why the Monarch is also choosing shade milkweed...I had one visit me early this spring, and my milkweed is in full sun. She did not touch it.
As to your original question, I do agree in letting nature take it's course. But that's on you :)
edit: This is for those who read online about zebras choosing p. suberosa as host.
I find that false, to a very large extent. I have over 20 different passion flower species, including suberosa. They hardly ever choose it, given a choice. They choose p. caerulea and p. incarnata...hands-down...over p. suberosa. Sorry if off-Martha's topic.

This post was edited by MsMorningSong on Sun, Jul 20, 14 at 17:28

    Bookmark   July 20, 2014 at 5:22PM
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That's awesome - congratulations! You deserve those for all of your hard work. Would love to see a picture of your non-blooming milkweed that had the eggs...just to be on the lookout for the same plant around here.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2014 at 8:50PM
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Wow! Martha, That's amazing!!! I wonder why she prefers to lay eggs low down. I think in my hunts I better start looking at the ground leaves. Maybe that is why I have not seen any cats so far in the wild.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2014 at 9:08PM
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Yay! Isn't it so exciting to find them?

    Bookmark   July 20, 2014 at 10:15PM
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docmom_gw Zone 5 MI(5)

I think females choose young plants to lay eggs on as often as possible. It may be that the tiny cats are better able to eat the more tender leaves. It may also be that the shorter sprouts are not as likely to be on the radar of the predators. I know that my best Monarch raising year I had hundreds of volunteer seedlings pop up all over my yard. At least 90% of the eggs and cats I found were on the fresh seedlings, not the mature plants. And even this year, the other egg I found was on a tiny seedling and the cat I found was on another seedling. Definitely check out the newest plants, if you are looking for eggs.


    Bookmark   July 20, 2014 at 10:33PM
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docmom_gw Zone 5 MI(5)

Here is a picture of the milkweed that I find eggs on. I'll post a picture of the group of plants and then one of a single, younger plant. If anyone can ID it for me, that would be great. I may try to transplant a sprout to a sunnier location to see if I could get a bloom. Unfortunately, my life is becoming complicated and I will probably need to move out of my house within the year. Maybe I'll have a plant digging party to share divisions of all my pollinator-friendly plants. More on that later. Here is the milkweed.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2014 at 8:00AM
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docmom_gw Zone 5 MI(5)

And a close-up.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2014 at 8:01AM
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Kristy Asao

Congratulations on the eggs! I wish I lived across a road with Milkweeds! I'm jealous. Lol There are moths/butterflies that lay their eggs on Mustard plants. And I'm jealous of people that have that Zebra butterfly! Lol

Edit: I don't know. I'm likely wrong. It looks like Four-leaved Milkweeds (Asclepias Quadrifolia).

This post was edited by Protego on Mon, Jul 21, 14 at 14:25

    Bookmark   July 21, 2014 at 2:14PM
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docmom_gw Zone 5 MI(5)

My photos don't show the leaf arrangement well, but there aren't four leaves at the same level. There are alternating pairs at 90 degree angles. So, I don't think it's the quadrifolia. Good try, though.


    Bookmark   July 22, 2014 at 6:43AM
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msmorningsong(SW FL 10A)

You made me look up milkweed! I had never paid any attention to the whorling of the leaves. It seem most are paired. Now I'm dying for you to take a picture of it blooming, so it can be ID'd.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2014 at 7:11AM
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docmom_gw Zone 5 MI(5)

I don't know if it will bloom at all. I've lived here through two summers with no blooms. Though, maybe it hasn't been mature enough to bloom. I suspect there isn't enough sunshine to allow blooms to form. I'd love to get seeds. It looks more and more likely that I will be moving, so I'd like to be able to take parts of my garden with me wherever I end up.


    Bookmark   July 22, 2014 at 6:14PM
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Thanks for posting the pictures. When I'm home, I'm going to compare them to some milkweed that's growing wild nearby. I don't think it's the same, but will check just to be sure.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2014 at 9:40PM
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I think the milkweed you have is common milkweed. It looks a lot like mine I have.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2014 at 11:34PM
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docmom_gw Zone 5 MI(5)

I may have Poke Milkweed. The pictures are close, and the woodland habitat certainly fits. The leaves still seem longer and more narrow than most of the pictures. Maybe I'll post on the Plant ID forum.


    Bookmark   July 23, 2014 at 6:49AM
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I'm thrilled you saw a monarch, I haven't this year...at all :(

Precious few swallowtails even.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2014 at 7:00AM
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terrene(5b MA)

Hi Docmom, congrats on your eggs! That is an interesting milkweed, and I don't think it's A. syriaca. Most of the A syriaca I see has fatter leaves, farther apart on the stem, and it doesn't grow in such close groupings (such as astute botanical analysis, huh? lol). I wonder what it is?

I actually have 5 small 2nd instar caterpillars myself right now. It is very exciting, since last year I had nary an egg or cat! But a female came through the garden and laid eggs on the A. incarnata seedlings, and one of the small A. syriaca shoots, totally ignoring my larger plants. Yes in my experience they do prefer the smaller plants.

I am hoping we will get more Monarch activity in August, and maybe one of these babies will be a female who leaves me lots of eggs?

    Bookmark   July 23, 2014 at 7:00AM
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Congratulations, Martha! I am really happy for you. When our lives are in flux, it is comforting to connect with nature, and I hope these babies bring you that wonderful sense of peace we can get in the garden.

Are you sure that milkweed isn't another curassavica? If you are growing it elsewhere in the garden there are probably lots of seeds around. Sort of Occam's razor⦠The most economical solution to a problem is probably the correct one.

Of course, you are talking to the milkweed identification expert here. ;)

    Bookmark   July 23, 2014 at 8:36AM
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docmom_gw Zone 5 MI(5)

I haven't let any curassavica plants go to seed. I only grew them last year and this to keep in pots to feed Monarchs if I got lucky. Our lack of sun and long cool summer kept my curassavica from getting more than 3" tall. My mystery patch has even less sun than my seedlings got, and they are over 4 ft tall. They also survived one of the toughest winters we've seen since my childhood, and that's getting to be a long time ago. I'll go check the name That Plant Forum and see what they thought.


    Bookmark   July 23, 2014 at 7:47PM
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