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No Monarchs Here

Posted by Leekle2ManE Lady Lake, FL 9a (My Page) on
Mon, Jul 28, 14 at 5:08

I know we live in a democracy, but the complete lack of Monarchs is a bit depressing. I have tons of Gulf Frits, several Zebra Longwings, numerous Sulphur cats munching my cassia, Longtail skippers skipping and... well... dozens of smaller butterflies visiting my gardens on a daily basis. Yet, despite letting Milkweed reseed itself where ever it desires, I have not seen one Monarch this season.

Anyone having better luck with this disappearing species?

This post was edited by Leekle2ManE on Mon, Jul 28, 14 at 5:30


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: No Monarchs Here

  • Posted by tomncath St Pete Z10a Heat 10 (My Page) on
    Mon, Jul 28, 14 at 7:00

Got excited yesterday but not sure if it was a Soldier or a Monarch :-( It was working my tall red pentas.

Tom


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RE: No Monarchs Here

I have had lots of Monarchs since early spring and I'm not far from Lady Lake. I live in Clermont, zone 9B.

Most of my milkweed has been chewed down to the stems and now are coming back. I'm looking to purchase more, but the big stores don't seem to have them in stock.

One thing about butterflies is that the numbers vary greatly from month to month and year to year. This year I've had a lot of Eastern Black Swallowtails, but I've had years where I don't see any for months--in spite of having a lot of host plants available.

For me this is the best year ever for butterflies. I'm seeing every major butterfly that I normally see. I virtually never see zebra swallowtails (lots of zebra longwings). I don't think I see the red-spotted purple butterflies either, but then I confuse them with the spicebush, which I do see with some frequency.

Tom

Clermont (twenty miles due west of Orlando)


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RE: No Monarchs Here

They come in spurts here. Right now I've seen them in the last week but hadn't seen any since Spring. Right now we have a lot of Black Swallowtails, some Gulf Fritillaries, some Sulphurs (but not as many as usual), Giant Swallowtail, Zebra Swallowtail, Zebra Longwing. And then many skippers, buckeyes, ect. And the hummingbirds have stuck around longer than usual, too. I'm in Brooksville. My passionflower vine got chewed back a couple of months ago and hasn't recovered, but that's why it's there, for the cats.


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RE: No Monarchs Here

Very few butterflies here this year. We have alot of thistles along our dirt road. They are usually covered with butterflies every year. Just about a handful this year. Very few in our yard. I really miss them!


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My first year gardening was spent doing 'traditional' things in the garden, but as that year came to an end, I was moving toward more eco-friendly practices. And last summer I was rewarded by lots of butterflies, mostly buckeyes and Gulf Frits, and some bees. Continuing down that eco-path, I find my beds in a constant state of flutter and buzzing. I even have 2 or 3 hummers that visit daily. But I just haven't seen those monarchs. One thing that has me wondering is the number of milkweed bugs. Through idle obsevation last year I seemed to notice that the few monarchs that visited laid their eggs on milkweed that didn't have milkweed bugs. I haven't bothered with controlling the milkweed bugs and now I am wonderng if they are somehow keeping the monarchs at bay?


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We never spray anything, so that is not the reason we have no butterflies.


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Wrong season?Don't Monarchs migrate? I see a few hanging around my yard & our camp's butterfly garden, but nothing like the number I saw in the spring….


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RE: No Monarchs Here

Make sure to control your wasp population. The red wasps will snatch your caterpillars off that milkweed and fly them away for a meal. Same for toads! I fight a constant battle against toads and wasps getting to the 'pillars


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RE: No Monarchs Here

We have so many Monarchs in our garden. I have Milkweed which has been destroyed by the red beetles and the wasps are all over. I see eggs layed and the next day they are gone...either wasps or ants. The few caterpillers are then taken by the wasps. Terrible and depressing.

But, my neighbor has been collecting some of the eggs and raising them inside his house.

I don't know if that's why we are seeing so many Monarchs. I do have a lot of flowers planted which attract them.

We are full of Monarchs, Swallowtails, Gulf Frits, you almost have to duck to walk around my place. Monarchs are breeding but unfortunately, the eggs, caterpillars aren't surviving. I can't do the 'inside' thing.

I am hopeful but can't keep up with providing the host food.

I want to also add, my cat has taken it upon himself to kill as many butterflies as possible. He lays near the flowers and grabs them. I almost killed him when I saw this and he is now an 'indoor cat.' He is banned from going out!!

Anyone with a cat should be aware, butterflies are easy catches.

Jane


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RE: No Monarchs Here

I got a little excited today. We were on our way back from the beach out on Cape Canaveral when we stopped at a feed store outside of Sanford. Behind the feed store they had "6 acres" of garden plants. On one table they had 6-8 milkweed plants and about the time I saw those I saw a monarch fluttering a couple tables away. This got me looking closely at the milkweed in hopes of seeing cats or eggs. But all I found were more Milkweed Bugs and a Ladybug larva.

And Carol, this time last year my milkweed plants were getting chewed down by lots of cats and we, my daughter and I, were building a cage so she could take some cats in to school to share with the class. School had not (has not) started yet, but was just around the corner (and is again). So I believe it's the right time, they're just not here.


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RE: No Monarchs Here

Maybe there is something to my kids' idea of complaining when you don't get your way...

Found this guy this morning and from the size it's been here for a while. Unfortunately, I did not find any others on my other milkweed plants. Though I did find two that had been completely stripped of their leaves.


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RE: No Monarchs Here

I've been getting monarchs on a daily basis around my garden and Im in Saint Petersburg. I would see 5 or 6 at a time fluttering around my garden along with polydomas swallowtails as well. I get one giant swallowtial that comes to the garden on a daily basis but never two at one time. Just one. I have a lot of milkweeds so that is probably why they are coming. and Whenever I see a caterpillar, I take it off the milkweed and bring it inside the butterfly house that is screened in to prevent the wasps from eating them alive! Right now I am in the process of trying to raise them from eggs. It's hard!. So far I was able to get five baby caterpillars hatched from the eggs so I brought these to the butterfly house. Right now I have 16 in crystalisis. And 5 more munches up the plants. I also have 30 eggs as well inside the house that I am hoping they can hatch. I need some input on how to do that.


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Had LOTS of monarchs here early on...I use a small screen box and put cats inside on milkweed plants. Released well over 30 or 40 early in the season..ran out of money to keep buying plants!!! hahahaa..Seriously! I have about a dozen plants in pots right now. They're not as plentiful right at this time, but LOTS of butterflies of other kinds. Lizards and birds keep my caterpillar supply down...twice now I've seen cats on my small fennel but by the next day they are gone....think it's the lizards. Grrr. But..I can't keep buying plants, either!! they were swallowtail on the fennel..nice n tasty, I'm sure.


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RE: No Monarchs Here

  • Posted by tomncath USDA 10a, Heat 10, S (My Page) on
    Fri, Aug 1, 14 at 17:25

Uh Oh. Remember that I could not tell if I'd seen a Soldier or a Monarch? I didn't have any milkweed and wanted a yellow-flowered one so I bought one two weeks ago when I saw them at the big-box. Problem, have not had the time to plant it so it's been on the side of the house in the shade to keep from being stressed from too much sun on the small black container...what do I do now?

Tom

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Image and video hosting by TinyPic


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LOL, Tom...watch the happy cat munch!! even if you'd planted it, it still wouldn't be enough food for a voracious cat!! You may need to break out the plastic and buy more milkweed!!!


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Tom, you can plant it or leave it. The cat will stay on the plant. If he or she falls off you can just put him/her back on.

It's a Monarch, by the way--at least from what I can see. It is a big one, so I would say another two or three days before the chrysalis. There is plenty of food for him if it is just him. Another six or so might consume most of the plant.

Congratulations!

Tom,

Clermont Zone 9b


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RE: No Monarchs Here

  • Posted by tomncath USDA 10a, Heat 10, S (My Page) on
    Sat, Aug 2, 14 at 7:57

Thanks folks, I have lots of wasps so I think I'd better leave the plant where it is for now and hope he/she is hidden well enough to survive. If it does get to the chrysalis stage should I leave it on the plant and leave the plant where it is, or can the plant then be planted?

Pictures this morning, only one cat.

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Image and video hosting by TinyPic


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RE: No Monarchs Here

They tend to move a lot just before the chrysalis stage, so it's very possible that it won't be on the plant. Still, they are very well secured, normally, and you can move the plant without dislodging the chrysalis.

I would go ahead and plant it where you want it to be. If you wait a few more days chance are you will be seeing more caterpillars.


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RE: No Monarchs Here

They tend to move a lot just before the chrysalis stage, so it's very possible that it won't be on the plant. Still, they are very well secured, normally, and you can move the plant without dislodging the chrysalis.

I would go ahead and plant it where you want it to be. If you wait a few more days chance are you will be seeing more caterpillars.


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RE: No Monarchs Here

  • Posted by tomncath USDA 10a, Heat 10, S (My Page) on
    Sun, Aug 3, 14 at 15:56

Gone this morning. We had a thunderstorm last night after sunset, either that or a wasp early morning before I checked. I looked on the ground well, nada, and didn't find a chrysalis :-(

Too busy today with other garden projects, and kept going back to make sure I didn't miss the little fellow. I'll put this plant in the ground tomorrow afternoon and watch for more.

Tom


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RE: No Monarchs Here

  • Posted by saldut 9-10 st pete, fl (My Page) on
    Sun, Aug 3, 14 at 16:43

I've got lots of milkweed all over the place here, and see maybe 2-3 Monarchs flitting around...but they don't seem to multiply so assume the babies are eaten by the wasps or the birds, of which I have plenty.... what are the requirements for a shelter for the cats if I can find some? you mention saving them, but what do they need to get me started? I appreciate any hints on this...thanx, sally


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Sally, I just built a very small 2 foot square screen box. When I find cats I just put a potted milkweed (or two or three!!!) inside the screen box with the cats on them. In a matter of days, you'll notice the beautiful green jewels (the chrysalis) hanging somewhere in the box. The biggest problems, however, are keeping enough potted milkweed and then, you MUST watch the chrysalis ..usually around 10 days...when that butterfly ecloses, you have to remove the lid to let the butterfly escape...do not TOUCH it, however...and sometimes it takes three to four hours before it's ready to fly away. I'll look for some picutures of my little house.


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Tom, don't give up hope. I have found various chrysallises in little hidden places nowhere near the host plant. It has been my experience that the cats will seek out a spot where they are less likely to be found by roving predators scouring the host plant.


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Yeah, sometimes I've found the chrysalis as much as ten feet away from the plant where they were feeding. Check the crossposts on that wooden fence--my fence is a favorite spot for them (although it's far too visible to the paper wasps, alas).


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RE: No Monarchs Here

  • Posted by saldut 9-10 st pete, fl (My Page) on
    Mon, Aug 4, 14 at 14:46

Thanks Beth7happy, good idea--- I don't see many cats anymore, I'm afraid the birds are getting them, and when I do notice a b-fly laying eggs and I go check later they are gone, I don't spray and suspect the bad-bugs are overtaking the 'good' bugs....maybe if I see a b-fly laying eggs and grab them right away and put in a cage, it might go better... thanks again, sally


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RE: No Monarchs Here

  • Posted by tomncath USDA 10a, Heat 10, S (My Page) on
    Mon, Aug 4, 14 at 19:15

No luck finding the little critter but my bamboo forest is only five feet away. Still, I think I'd like to build a nurturing cage, gotta do some homework....Sally, if you're interested it would probably be just as easy to build two cages rather than one.

Tom


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Here is a picture of the little cat cage I made a few years ago. (It's pretty weather beaten now, and needs the screen replaced.) ok..I really should just build a new one! I think the cost was around $12 for the screen and lumber. As you can see, it's VERY simple, but has worked like a charm. Hope it's helpful.


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RE: No Monarchs Here

  • Posted by saldut 9-10 st pete, fl (My Page) on
    Tue, Aug 5, 14 at 13:57

Tom, I appreciate your offer and will take you up on it, you are a Prince! I'll pay you for it so let me know.... you may have forgotten, but there is a tomato-grow pot here with your name on it, from last year..... Beth7happy, that B-fly cage is fantastic, it is really large...resembles the B-fly cage at the Green-thumb just smaller, thanks..... do you see it Tom? This morning I looked out back and saw a hummer working the Coral-vine up in that pecan tree... and the fire-bush had maybe a dozen little striped b-flys, they are smaller than Monarchs and not a strong flyer, the stripes are black and yellow...I'm going on Google to look them up... The yellow Cassia has yellow sulphur B-flys all over it.... the other day there was a very large striped B-fly, w/tails, just a single, on the fire-bush... the hummers like that bush also, ... so if I could possibly find the eggs before the birds do, we could be in business! LOL, sally


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Sally, the cage is only 2' square, so not all that big, but can usually house the pots of milkweed from Rockledge Gardens. Oh, and I think the little flutters you are seeing could well be my favorite, zebra longwing! I LOVE Florida in the summer!!!


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RE: No Monarchs Here

  • Posted by tomncath USDA 10a, Heat 10, S (My Page) on
    Tue, Aug 5, 14 at 17:52

Beth, thanks for the picture, did you find some plans somewhere? I thought it was much bigger until you stated 2'x2', then I noticed the rocking horse in the background...should not be too hard to build for the two of us.

Sally, given me a little time on the BF cage, lots of unfinished garden projects right now. I'm jealous you're seeing hummers, nada here and I just don't have enough growing for them right now....I'll definitely be ready by next year.

Tom


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I think I just witnessed part of my problem. Yes I have lots of milkweed, but I seem to be lacking the right nectar sources. As Firebush blooming seems to bring in the Zebra Longwings, I need to figure out what brings in the Monarchs. I say this because I just saw a Monarch fluttering around my beds, from the freshness of its colors, I am making a huge leap and saying it is the caterpillar I have pictured above. This Monarch fluttered around the beds, stopped to rest on a blueberry bush and then fluttered off. It did not seem the least bit interested in any of my flowering plants, of which I have quite a few varieties.

So now I am wondering, those of you who have been seeing the Monarchs, what have they been nectaring on? Milkweed seems an obvious choice, but the milkweed bugs seem to do a pretty good job of preventing mine from blooming.


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If you have enough milkweed the monarchs should come and they will use many flowers for nectar.

Won't go through an exhaustive list here, because they use many. The absolute best nectar plant in my yard is the large red penta. Other pentas work well also. The next best plant is the large purple porterweed (Stachytarpheta frantzii)--which happens to be one of the best hummingbird plants also.

Lots of places to get both plants. If you order online one of the best in my experience is Almost Eden.

Tom, Clermont, zone 9B

Here is a link that might be useful: Almost Eden


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tomcat, sorry...missed your post last week! Nope..no plans, just simple cuts and joints...as minimal as I could possible do!! :) and stapled on the screen. You'll whip one out in no time... and have lots of fun with the little room!


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RE: No Monarchs Here

Interesting, Tom. I have both the 4' tall red pentas and the dwarf cultivar (the dwarf barely attracts anything, so I am guessing it has lost much of its nectar from the dwarfing). I also have both the native and non-native porterweeds and they are almost always in bloom. Pentas too. The Gulf Frits, Black Swallowtails, Pipevine Swallowtails and others often feed at these. But this morning's Monarch just wasn't interested.

And not to stray from the topic, my hummers prefer to sip from my firebush and coral honeysuckle. They visit others, like zinnias and my Mex. Sunflower, but not nearly as much as the those two.


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  • Posted by tomncath USDA 10a, Heat 10, S (My Page) on
    Mon, Aug 11, 14 at 18:52

Thanks Beth, I run down some plans for a cage.

I got my tall red pentas from Tom123 and that is the one I always see the Monarchs on, that is also the one I see the few hummers I've had so far working....


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Leekle2ManE, it sounds like you have plenty of good nectar plants. As long as you continue to have a lot of milkweed you should get more Monarchs. One thing to consider is what your neighbors have in their gardens. If none of them have any milkweed it might be difficult for the Monarchs to establish a large breeding population. If you have a big enough yard and a lot of milkweed you can become your own breeding station.

On a positive note last week the Lowe's in Clermont got in a large shipment of tropical milkweed. I purchased two and the lady at the counter said that people were purchasing a lot of them.

The first full bloom of coral honeysuckle in the spring is the best attractor for hummingbirds in my garden. It blooms off and on pretty much all the time, but there aren't nearly as many blooms after that first blush. Hamelia Patens (firebush) is now an excellent hummer plant for me and it attracts many butterflies but the Zebra Longwings really love it.

Tom, Clermont, Zone 9B


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Hi, I am in process of replanting much of my butterfly garden. While I have many butterflies, I have let my milkweeds decline. I am harvesting seeds to attend my first seed exchange. Has anyone tried planting milkweed from seed? If available, should I look for a certain variety? I just know them as yellow and orange, and I think orange is more popular with the Monarchs. Leu gardens in Orlando is having a seed exchange, next week I think.


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the anoles also will eat the eggs and larvae. I have lots of them in my garden.


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rene, I think that they are the biggest predators for the butterflies! I've seen them even going after chrysalis AND getting the newly emerged butterfly, too...with wings not yet even unfurled...


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kthomp, I have grown two varieties of milkweed from seed and am trying to get another two to germinate. A. curassavica and A. incarnata are easy to germinate, but can be difficult to transplant and establish, you really have to stay on top of them. The names of the other varieties I am trying to germinate escape me at the moment, but they have been harder. My first attempt resulted in 1 out of 12 cells (6 cells of each variety) germinating and I lost that sprout within days of it breaking soil. So I put the seed packets in my fridge for three-four months to cold stratify the seeds and hopefully break their dormancy. I sowed three seeds per cell in eight cells two days ago ( again, 4 cells per variety). Time will tell if they germinate better.

That said, I have found it easier to just shake the seeds from a plant over a patch of ground where I want milkweed and then let nature take its course. Or just let the plants reseed themselves.


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RE: No Monarchs Here

  • Posted by saldut 9-10 st pete, fl (My Page) on
    Sat, Aug 16, 14 at 13:41

I think that those anoles are the culprit, they are all over the place here, glad you mentioned it I had not suspected.... the milkweed will seed itself once established, it volunteers all over in my yard....LOL, sally


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