More and more I hear of the lost of milkweed for our monarch butterflies. The population is decreasing at an alarming rate - we need to plant more milkweed to save these beautiful creatures.
Last week while working with the elementary children, I noticed in the school garden a small milkweed plant that had 5 caterpillars. I watched them eat those leaves as the children came over to see what I was looking at. I began to tell them about the monarchs and the battle they have to fight to survive. To my surprise, they were all very interested! I told them last week as garden club ended, that this week all the leaves would be gone from the milkweed as they will eat the leaves to survive.
To my surprise, one young girl came to me and said "You were right! There are no leaves left on the plant.". Of the 5 caterpillars, 3 still remained. I printed pictures I took from in my own garden of the caterpillar, pupa and butterfly to share with the children. They all wanted copies! Such excitement from a young group is fantastic. Next week I will bring more photos (that I am sharing here with you) for the children. We all decided to take an area of our vegetable garden to make a butterfly garden. Milkweed will be planted in the garden for the monarchs. Hopefully, the butterflies will continue to come and the lifecycle will continue in our garden.
Get excited! If you have a yard, or perhaps a small place you can plant milkweed in a pot - please do! The plant requires some direct sun, but it doesn't have to be all day. No pesticides are a requirement for your milkweed and surrounding area around the plant. Hopefully, the monarch butterflies will come and lay their eggs. The milkweed plant will lose it leaves as the caterpillars eat them - but don't worry, the plant will grow new ones and continue to thrive. If you don't get caterpillars (or they aren't there for some reason yet), the milkweed does have a pretty small flower that will bloom - several different colors are available (mine are red and orange). If the flowers are left on the plant they will go to seed and create new plants.
You too can help! I just ordered 500 milkweed seeds to plant at home and our community gardens for $10 (just google it). Let's help save this beautiful creature. This is the site that I used https://www.livemonarch.com/free-milkweed-seeds.htm
Monarch caterpillar busy eating milkweed leaves. This photo is not 'tact sharp' as the little critter was very busy eating!
A monarch caterpillar hanging from a milkweed plant that is now 'bare' of leaves.
I found a pupae hanging on our boat trailer - we didn't use our boat for a couple of weeks waiting for the little creature to be born again as a monarch butterfly. This is extremely small, about an inch in length.
A monarch butterfly shortly after having 'hatched' from the pupae.
Until next time,
Linda, VP Shoots Photography