Along with watching wood chucks, I have been waiting and looking for monarch butterflies. Fifty-three milkweed plants have been growing in the back and side of my house all summer. Milkweed is the monarch's host plant and it is only milkweed that this butterfly will lay its eggs on. The larvae then eat the leaves. I have checked all the plants routinely for eggs and leaf chew. Nothing. By the middle of August I realized I hadn't seen any monarchs drifting through the garden or nectaring on the flowers. In fact, I wasn't seeing them anywhere. Reading up on their situation, I discovered a cold, wet spring caused a decrease in their numbers coming up north. Additionally, habitat loss in Mexico, where they winter over, as well as habitat loss in the U.S., the use of the herbicide round-up which kills milkweed, and changing weather patterns are all contributing to their sharp decline. As of September twenty-fourth, I have only seen three monarch butterflies. I am sending my sightings to Journey North. It is a citizen science program that tracks monarch migration. Data will help scientists figure out more about the monarch's plight. I have plenty of milkweed seeds if anyone's interested.
|Commonly seen cabbage white butterfly|
|Monarch on asters|
|Bee loaded with pollen|