Are these butterfly eggs on a milkweed?

beatrice_outdoors(6a MA)September 26, 2012

Hi Everyone. This is my first time posting in this forum. I hope you can help. I pulled a milkweed plant out of my garden just now-it is the only one I had. As soon as I did it I remembered that butterflies lay eggs on milkweed, and my heart sank.

I have been growing my garden to attract butterflies, but did not realize I may actually provide egg sites, too.

Will the eggs survive if the plant dies? I do not know my butterflies well, but we had a LOT of them (and bumblebees) this year. Here's hoping I did not just cause some dreadful harm to the lifecycle.

The plant was lying on the ground, so I believe the black spots are dirt. Nothing seems to move when I gently poke it, so I don't think they are aphids either. It's just that there are so MANY.

I am in eastern Massachusetts (if that matters/helps).

Thanks for any help you can provide.

Beatrice

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beatrice_outdoors(6a MA)

Sorry-let me try adding the picture again!

    Bookmark   September 26, 2012 at 3:31PM
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misssherry(Z8/9SE MS)

It's probably all dirt, but some of those yellowish grains might be monarch eggs ready to hatch.
I'm linking you to a site with a picture of a monarch egg. They're very small, so you may have to get out your magnifying glass to see if any have the typical vertical lines that monarch eggs have.

Hopefully, congratulations!

Sherry

Here is a link that might be useful: Monarch Life Cycle

    Bookmark   September 26, 2012 at 4:43PM
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terrene(5b MA)

Beatrice, I live in eastern Mass. too and in my area (metro west Boston) the Monarchs have LONG stopped laying eggs. The nights start getting too cold and they don't have enough time to complete their growth cycle. The last eggs I collected were probably laid Sept 1st or 2nd.

The Monarch breeding season is longer along the coast because nights are warmer than inland, so if you are in the warmest section of eastern Mass then maybe there might be a stray egg? But your dots don't look like eggs to me.

I am curious why did you pull your one milkweed plant?

    Bookmark   September 27, 2012 at 2:37AM
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beatrice_outdoors(6a MA)

Sherry,

I tried looking, but my magnifying glass is not strong enough to distinguish stripes. I put the plant back outside in case I am lucky and they are eggs, but the fact that there are so many makes me wonder. I looked up more images of eggs, and none of them has more than a few at a time.

Terrene, my nights have been in the 50's, and this week started getting into the 40's on occasion. I was never taught to think milkweed is anything but a weed, and was on autopilot when I pulled it. I have been looking things up lately, though, which is why I said my heart sank as soon as I pulled it and realized I may not have just been "weeding". You can bet I will know better next time! I just don't normally get milkweed plants in my yard, either. There are plenty of them in the neighborhood, though.

I better learn my caterpillars soon, otherwise I may not know what I am looking at if they come out.

Thank you both for responding and helping me!

    Bookmark   September 27, 2012 at 7:04AM
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beatrice_outdoors(6a MA)

Hi folks. I figured I'd post a quick follow up to my earlier post. I was not able to track the eggs or whatever they were (too busy) but unless there are some other black and orange butterflies that I am not aware of, I have seen four monarchs this past week, the last one just a few minutes ago.

So my milkweed plant may have indeed had eggs! I am amazed, but happy. :)

Beatrice

    Bookmark   October 20, 2012 at 2:39PM
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beatrice_outdoors(6a MA)

BTW-I meant to say, black and orange butterflies that look like monarchs. I do know there are plenty of B&O ones....

    Bookmark   October 20, 2012 at 2:58PM
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beatrice_outdoors(6a MA)

BTW-I meant to say, black and orange butterflies that look like monarchs. I do know there are plenty of B&O ones....

    Bookmark   October 20, 2012 at 4:10PM
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jean001a(Portland OR 7b)

Looks like your plant had aphids.

    Bookmark   October 20, 2012 at 6:09PM
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mechelle_m(z9 TX)

Beatrice,

There is a wonderful book that helps identify eggs and caterpillars. It is geared towards kids, but that just makes it an easy read. I love it for the pictures it provides. It is called The Life Cycles of Butterflies, by Judy Burris and Wayne Richards. I think I saw it was available on Amazon a while back.

Mechelle

    Bookmark   October 20, 2012 at 10:10PM
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coolbutterfly(5A)

Hi Beatrice, there's no way you would have monarch eggs in Massachusetts in October. I agree they were probably aphids.

As for your butterflies, could they have been painted ladies?

http://www.butterfliesandmoths.org/species/Vanessa-cardui

Tony

    Bookmark   October 20, 2012 at 10:22PM
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beatrice_outdoors(6a MA)

coolbutterfly-the wings on the ones that were very close in the last week had distinct black lines, not black whirls and swirls. One was sitting on a plant for about a minute, so I did get a good look, one flew in front of my face for about 30 seconds while I was gardening (also a very good look), one went by in a fairly straight line, one was only close enough to see the colors (not so good look). But I don't know enough about butterflies to say definitively that they were or were not monarchs. I am just hopeful

In any case, butterflies in my garden are awesome. Especially these Halloween colored ones in October. :)

    Bookmark   October 21, 2012 at 8:21AM
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bob_71(z7 MD)

Beatrice, I am attaching two photos of Monarch eggs on Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) for your help in knowing what you are looking for. These are larger than life-size. Hope it helps you.

Bob

    Bookmark   October 21, 2012 at 12:10PM
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beatrice_outdoors(6a MA)

Bob-thank you so much. I did receive a picture from someone when I originally posted, too, but I have no reference for size. How big are they compared to the tip of a pencil?

    Bookmark   October 21, 2012 at 3:17PM
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coolbutterfly(5A)

Beatrice, perhaps you did see some late monarchs since much of the migration took place on the east coast this year.

Now that you know what monarch eggs look like, I hope you find some in 2013!

Tony

    Bookmark   October 21, 2012 at 8:57PM
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dangermouse01

The white dot on the leaf at the tip of my thumb is a Monarch egg.

DM

    Bookmark   October 23, 2012 at 6:03PM
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beatrice_outdoors(6a MA)

Thank you DM! Your picture is extremely helpful!

    Bookmark   October 24, 2012 at 8:10AM
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terrene(5b MA)

Bob, those are great macro shots of the eggs.

Yes it is unlikely that eggs are being laid in Mass. in October, but common for migrants to still be passing through. I haven't seen a Monarch for over 2 weeks, since we had a hard frost, but people along the coast see them longer because they have milder low temperatures and they probably have not yet had a frost.

Beatrice, hopefully your milkweed will pop up again next year from the root system! My experience with Asclepias syriaca - common milkweed is, that it grows where it wants to, so I sort of try to accommodate in the garden beds, and make it look like it belongs! It's not the best behaved garden plant, but it works well to attract the female Monarchs.

    Bookmark   October 29, 2012 at 3:14PM
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