Female Monarch visiting the milkweed in my garden this week.
November has been a very good month for viewing Monarch butterflies in my garden. All of 2017 has, in fact, been a good year for them. All year long there has been a constant stream of the beautiful butterflies visiting my flowers, but in November, that stream became a torrent as fall migration picked up and millions of them headed toward the mountains of Mexico for their winter.
That's not just my observation. All across the continent, butterfly watchers have been reporting increased sightings of Monarchs this year. It seems the population is on the rise again.
The real crunch, though, comes in the winter. Recent winters have been devastating to Monarchs because of a combination of nasty weather and illegal logging in the mountains where they spend the winter. The insects are actually capable of surviving fairly cold temperatures but when those temperatures are combined with prolonged inclement weather, that can be deadly for them. Thus, the coming months will be crucial for determining if this resurgence of the Monarch population continues.
Meanwhile, I continue to enjoy my daily encounters with the butterflies.
Earlier this week, I tried to determine how many Monarchs were in the garden on one sunny afternoon. I counted six, but there were probably more that I didn't see. It's almost impossible to get a completely accurate count because they won't hold still for it.
As they pass through, the Monarchs often leave a deposit with me in the form of their eggs.
I took this picture of a Monarch egg a few years ago. You can actually see the tiny embryo inside.
Those eggs quickly hatch into hungry, hungry caterpillars. Like these.
In the fullness of time, caterpillar becomes chrysalis.
And chrysalis becomes a butterfly.
And the circle of life for the Monarchs of November is complete.