Sharing Monarch Information

bandjzmom(7 NWGeorgia)August 26, 2013

Yesterday, I attended a presentation called The Mystery and Magic of Monarchs at our local community college. The presenter was Wanda Dewaard. She is an outdoor educator who holds a Masters degree in recreation and outdoor education. She is very passionate about Monarchs. I thought that I would share what I learned for any here who are interested. You may already know all of this, or you may learn something new.

1. 1% of butterfly eggs make it past the egg stage.
2. There are 3,000 species of Milkweed world wide. North America has 110 species, and there are about 25 species of MW that the Monarchs use.
3. Monarch caterpillars eat their eggshells after birth, and then they eat the hairs on the MW leaf.
4. There is a 2,000x increase in the size of the cats from birth to pupation.
5. The gold spots on the chrysalides have been studied by scientists, and they still don't know exactly why they are there. However, when the gold spots were removed, the butterflies that eclosed seem to lack some color.
6. The 2 dark spots on the Monarch males were once thought to be scent glands, but scientists have now discovered that they are not scent glands.
7.Monarch butterflies may migrate up to 2,800 miles.
8. Monarchs in Mexico last year were at an all time low. The hot fires in Texas 2012 destroyed a lot of Milkweed. The cold weather in March 2013 held back the migration.
9. Late arrivals in the northern part of North America will equal low populations in Mexico after migration.

  1. Genetically engineered crops and roadside maintenance practices cause problems.
  2. Asclepius was the Greek God of Healing, and this is where Milkweed gets its scientific name.
  3. Monarch tagging began in the 1950's
  4. The longest recorded Monarch flight over one day was 265 miles.
  5. Butterfly Weed has a larger amount of latex inside, and as a result won't be the first choice of ELF Monarchs.
  6. We should cut our Common Milkweed back in early June here so that there will be new growth for the ELF Monarchs when they come through.
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dr.liz(7 NJ)

Thank you for sharing all that interesting information. I wonder if cutting back milk weed here in New Jersey also be a good idea.
Liz

    Bookmark   August 26, 2013 at 3:30PM
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butterflyaddict(9b)

Thanks for the Info. Stupid question what is ELF?
Something must be happening right in South La. This is the fisrt year I have had monarchs in my garden every month . Some months they are here everyday. I can't keep enough milkweed for them. I bought some plants at lowes yesterday and they were full of healthy cats. This is the third time I buy plants @ $6.94 each. x 9 plants(total). So far I raised and released about 20 Monarchs on 9 plants. soooo about $ 3.12 per monarch, I must be crazy :-). And I'm at 90+ raised and released for the year.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2013 at 4:33PM
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bandjzmom(7 NWGeorgia)

Liz, I am not sure of the answer. She said that the ELF (Egg Laying Female) Monarchs will tend to avoid laying on old leathery Common Milkweed leaves, and that does make sense to me. I don't normally see Monarchs here in NW GA until August, so the cutting back in June makes sense down here, but probably not where you are.
There are no stupid questions addict! It is so wonderful to hear of your wild success with rearing. Thank you so much for doing that for the Monarchs.
Angie

    Bookmark   August 26, 2013 at 8:47PM
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coolbutterfly(5A)

Angie, thanks for posting this...1,5, & 6 were surprising!

I think for #15, a better way to word it for the forum would be to "cut it back after it flowers". I cut mine back in July (in Minnesota) and got more eggs on the fresh leaves.

Tony

    Bookmark   August 27, 2013 at 12:06AM
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terrene(5b MA)

Thanks for the info, I knew a lot but not all that you posted. I have been cutting milkweed back for some time, including the A. curassavica, after realizing that the ELFs and little cats prefer the tender fresh shoots. They also seem to like young plants.

There is a field about 1 mile away that I call the "milkweed field" - has lots of Asclepias syriaca growing throughout. This pasture is hayed in late June or July, and you should see the beautiful milkweed that grows up after mowing. It is in flood plain and is a moist field so that helps. This is where I (usually) get extra cuttings for the Monarchs - but there haven't been any Monarchs this year!

    Bookmark   August 27, 2013 at 1:09AM
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bandjzmom(7 NWGeorgia)

Thanks Tony. She didn't specifically say that, and I tried to post strictly what she did say. After the flowering does makes sense. This helps with Liz's question about cutting back milkweed in New Jersey. If you guys in zone 5 are cutting it back, then she should be good to do it in zone 7, right?
Angie

    Bookmark   August 27, 2013 at 7:22AM
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lenahall(7b)

great notes, angie!!
didn't she say cutting them back also helped w/ aphids? i thought it was interesting that the ants that 'mine/farm' the aphids will kill the cats to ensure the aphids do well! and that the male monarch has been known to 'chase' hummingbirds b/c he is so macho and territorial!!
it was an amazing lecture, and i've been scouring the roadsides between rocky face and cleveland, and sand mtn, al looking for m.w.!! lol

    Bookmark   August 27, 2013 at 7:54PM
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bandjzmom(7 NWGeorgia)

Well dadgum Lena. If I had known you were going, we could have certainly met in person and sat together. I really did enjoy the lecture. Wanda was obviously so in love with the Monarchs. Her enthusiasm was contagious. I was also able to connect with the ladies from the Wild Ones, and I am considering joining them in their organization. I asked Wanda for a piece of that milkweed vine that she had brought with her. I brought it home and am trying to root it in both water and soil. Wanda said that she doesn't think it will root. Me, being the Little Engine that Could, decided to try anyway!
Angie

    Bookmark   August 27, 2013 at 8:22PM
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butterflymomok(7a NE OK)

This summer I had to cut back my milkweed while it was flowering as I had too many caterpillars to feed. It is now lush and full of new flowers. So it doesn't matter when you trim it, it will come back better than ever.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2013 at 8:24PM
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lenahall(7b)

she was amazing! after i left i thought to myself that i should have asked for a cutting!! hopefully it will root! then you can share! lol
i'll probably join the wild ones. they seem like a good group of peeps!
i have been scouring the back roads looking for milkweed, and evidently i haven't found any :( i thought i had, but someone on the natives site id'd them all as something else.
HOWEVER, i think i found some in the ditch by my driveway, but it is really short, and it was getting dark, so the flash on the camera didn't allow for a good pic... what do you think? (the last 4 pics of the album are the ones i'm wondering about)

Here is a link that might be useful: facebook album of roadside gems

    Bookmark   August 27, 2013 at 8:59PM
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butterflymomok(7a NE OK)

Lena,

I checked out your photos, and yes, you have milkweed. It looks like what is called Comet Milkweed. That is so exciting to find milkweed in the ditch by your driveway.

Sandy

    Bookmark   August 27, 2013 at 10:15PM
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lenahall(7b)

thanks, sandy! i was down at that part of the property about to stake off where i want to install my 'native garden' and noticed it! i could have sworn i saw a seed pod, but when i got back from getting my camera it was dark and i couldn't locate it... i'll look again tomorrow. at least now i know what to look for!!
i just think it is so funny that i have literally spent hours cruising around these back roads and didn't find any (probably overlooked a lot), but found some at home :)

    Bookmark   August 27, 2013 at 11:13PM
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docmom_gw Zone 5 MI(5)

Lenahall,
If you want to grow more milkweed at home, there is an adopt a newbie milkweed project over on the seed exchange forum. You sign up and someone from your climate zone will adopt you and send you milkweed seeds and instructions on how to grow them. Or you could ask for donations here. I will have seeds of common milkweed and swamp milkweed in a little while. They are taking forever to ripen. I may even get some tuberosa, but it's still blooming actively.

Martha

    Bookmark   August 28, 2013 at 6:41AM
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coolbutterfly(5A)

"If you guys in zone 5 are cutting it back, then she should be good to do it in zone 7, right?"

Hi Angie, I would cut back common milkweed anywhere because it gives your milkweed second life...almost all the eggs I got on our common from mid July-early August were on those new leaves...

Sandy, very interesting that yours flowered again! Perhaps you could cut some of your plants back early every year so you could have 2 bloom periods for your common.....hmmmmmmmmmmm

    Bookmark   August 28, 2013 at 3:27PM
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lenahall(7b)

i may have seen a monarch today fluttering over a field filled w/ purple, yellow, pink and white flowers!! i had pulled over on the side of the road doing my daily ditch dance, looking for milkweed and saw what looked to be one :) an electric fence and waist high 'weeds' were all that kept me from trying to get closer!
a girl can dream!! :)

    Bookmark   August 29, 2013 at 11:26PM
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lenahall(7b)

i may have seen a monarch today fluttering over a field filled w/ purple, yellow, pink and white flowers!! i had pulled over on the side of the road doing my daily ditch dance, looking for milkweed and saw what looked to be one :) an electric fence and waist high 'weeds' were all that kept me from trying to get closer!
a girl can dream!! :)

    Bookmark   August 29, 2013 at 11:58PM
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bandjzmom(7 NWGeorgia)

Hey Lena, It looks to me like all of these Milkweed vine cuttings are going to make it. I will be most happy to share with you if they do. I can't recall what the specific name of the vine is though. Do you remember what Wanda said?
Angie

    Bookmark   August 30, 2013 at 7:09AM
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lenahall(7b)

i believe it was 'blue' something?
that's great that they are doing well!!! maybe i could come visit your garden next week sometime? since this is a short work week i may not have time, but will definitely have time next wk :)

    Bookmark   September 2, 2013 at 3:37PM
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bandjzmom(7 NWGeorgia)

I would love to have you come visit Lena. There isn't much garden to see though. Only lots of Hummingbirds and Butterfly bushes to see, and I do have Spicebush cats, Sleepy orange cats, and Cloudless Sulphur cats, and Black SWT eggs right now.
Angie

    Bookmark   September 2, 2013 at 3:59PM
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lenahall(7b)

angie - sorry i have been incommunicado! lol
are you aware of the certificate in native plants that the tn valley chapter of the wild ones is offering w/ the chattanooga nature center/ reflection riding? here is a link to the info. there in an informational reception this tues at 6 @ reflection riding...
ALSO how is the milkweed vine doing?

Here is a link that might be useful: cnp reflection riding

    Bookmark   January 12, 2014 at 5:38PM
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