Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Are Monarchs making a comeback?

Last week I wrote here about my observations of Monarch butterflies in my garden and the preference they have shown this year (since they've had a choice) for native milkweed over the tropical variety. After I had posted my conclusions, it later occurred to me that the reason I was able to make these observations was because I have actually had plenty of Monarchs in my garden this spring and summer. That was not the case over the past couple of years when my garden was almost Monarch-free. And that led me to a question:

Are Monarchs making a comeback?

Well, they've certainly made a comeback in my yard, but that's just anecdotal evidence. 


Male Monarch on tithonia.

Female Monarch on yellow cestrum.

Monarch feeding from tropical milkweed.

They do like the cestrum.

And they do like the blossoms of the tropical milkweed.


I wonder if my observations are supported by other gardeners across the country. It will be particularly interesting to see what the data show after this season is over.

Certainly I attribute some of the Monarch traffic in my yard to the planting of native milkweeds this year. Some of the butterflies that I'm seeing now probably hatched and grew on that milkweed. Again, I have no scientific confirmation of that. It's just observation and gut-feeling.

But I do have a good feeling about these butterflies. I suspect that they are beginning to make a comeback and that all the publicity of the last couple of years about the trouble that they are in and about ways that we can help them has begun to have an effect. In short, I am more hopeful about this butterfly's future than I have been for a while. It certainly helps that I'm seeing lots of these around the garden.

Monarch egg with tiny embryo inside.

6 comments:

  1. Wow, Dorothy! Beautiful pics. I have never been lucky enough to get a pic of a butterfly. I hope they are indeed making a comeback; they are beautiful creatures.

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    1. The wonderful thing about Monarchs is they are so charismatic and people have such empathy for them. If we can engage the public in saving them, we will incidentally help to save a lot of other creatures who may not be as charismatic. Monarchs are really ambassadors for all of Nature.

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  2. Gorgeous. I haven't seen any this year. My zinnias are missing them!

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    1. That's interesting, Snap. Maybe they've all migrated over to my yard.

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  3. Hi - I "rescued" about 10 Monarch caterpillars from my milkweed in January (we were expecting a freeze). Now I have raised a total of 10 butterflies. Unfortunately I've been told that if I released them they would die from lack of food. Nonetheless, it has been a true learning experience which I have been able to share with my Facebook friends. I love Monarchs!

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    1. Are there no flowers in bloom where you live? That's all they need to feed on. If there are no flowers, you could potentially make artificial "nectar" with sugar and water. There are butterfly feeders available. Look at a pet store or online.

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