Sunday, June 28, 2020

Monarch of Michigan!

Everyone's seen my Murphy and Loaner cat, but tonight, I have an overnight guest. I live in Michigan and this year has been terribly late for the vegetation. My dill still isn't a foot tall and my milkweed, while budding, is barely two feet tall. I've also only seen two different swallowtails this year. Just two. Last year, my yard, which is an unofficial butterfly sanctuary, was full of monarchs and swallowtails and fritillary and several others we don't often see.

Imagine my surprise today when I saw this monarch caterpillar on a tiny milkweed plant! Mama must have snuck past me at some point, laid her eggs and left. I check my milkweed almost daily and haven't seen anything so this was a delight. We're going to have bad storms and large hail tonight though, so I've brought this guy (or gal) in for the night and will take him back outside tomorrow, provided he hasn't chrysalized overnight. He's pretty big so it wouldn't surprise me, in which case, I'll keep him for the days it takes for him to become a beautiful butterfly.

PSA: Butterflies of all kinds are endangered due to pesticides and indiscriminate removal of their host plants. If you can, and not everyone can, but if you can, please use those things that rid us of the bad bugs but won't kill the beneficial ones.

 Hiatus update: I can't believe it's the last week of June. I can remember thinking back in March "be careful, this period of craziness is going to be over soon and you'll want to be ready."

Well, I'm not really ready, although I've got my reading mojo back, thank all deities, and people seem to have found a new normal, mostly, but the uptick in infection rates tells me that I'm going to be isolating for a good long time. Get used to long hair and zoom, cause that's gonna be the way things are for a while.


Theresa said...

Long hair and zoom sounds like a good rallying cry for coping with social distancing.

I love the monarch of Michigan. My husband designs our gardens to attract butterflies and bees.

Craig F said...

Congratulations Nightmusic:

I know that a week or two ago you fretted the well being of Monarchs because none had showed in your yard. Looks like they made it.

Down this way the Monarch start to breed two weeks before the wasps become active.

It doesn't matter how much milkweed you have then, it all gets eaten.

Y'all have a great Sunday!

Sharyn Ekbergh said...

I've had plenty of the yellow tiger swallowtails on my lilacs and rhododendron. Last year plenty of black swallowtails laying eggs on the dill so I planted more dill. None yet. I have a lot of milkweed but have not seen any monarchs yet. I'll take a closer look for eggs.

We cut down a lot of trees on a hillside and our bird population has increased. A pair of scarlet tanagers, a wonderful catbird singing away and the rest of the regular crew is here.

I also have an amphibian refuge which has at least four species of frogs. A great concert.

Our yard is all wild with paths mowed for walking.

I'm in the White Mountains and hunkered down for the duration.

Beth Carpenter said...

So glad you're welcoming the monarchs in your yard.

Since I write from home, let the gray hair go gray, never bothered with manicures, and have been trimming my own bangs for years, it's been less of a shock to my routine. Oops, have to go off to online church.Now that's a change, but I'm not sure I hate it. Hang in there, everyone.

Melanie Sue Bowles said...

This is all kinds of fabulous. Thank you Nightsmusic for tending to the safety of this fine fellow. And I am in so much agreement with your PSA. Without the earth, man would die. Without man, the earth would thrive.

I think I shared with you all, back at the start of all this, that I shaved my shoulder length hair. I've never been one to fuss, don't own a single item of make-up, but I think I've decided I like my hair this super short. Gonna do it again (I think). Janet, I'll loan you my horse clippers. HA!

nightsmusic said...

Thank you all. I missed my window of release and within two hours, he'd gone from caterpillar to chrysalis. He's attached himself to the top of the enclosure and I'll take good are of him. Sometimes, the outcome isn't what we'd hope, but I have experience, so hoping for the best.

I did see my first monarch butterfly today. This is the end of June and I should have seen hundreds by now, but I belong to two FB butterfly groups and many, many people are reporting they haven't seen anything yet. And out of all the dill I have, not one swallowtail caterpillar.

This has been a very weird season this year.

NLiu said...

Nightsmusic so glad to see someone caring for these beautiful creatures! And hooray for the stripey Monarch caterpillar! What a handsome beastie! I'd love to know what the chrysalis looks like. My mum and dad are also looking after some chrysalises after accidentally becoming caterpillar parents. We're waiting for them to emerge to see what butterflies we got. Cue much reading of The Very Hungry Caterpillar to the kids!

nightsmusic said...

nLiu you can follow this link which I can't make active on my phone so just copy and paste, but this is what the chrysalis looks like. Mine is just the same but my enclosure has black netting so I can't get a good picture. Lengthwise, it's a bit longer than the diameter of a quarter.

Make sure your parents have a stick or two, or something similar leaning upright so the have something to cling to when they emerge. They have to hang almost upside down in order to get their wings to fill with fluid so they'll furl properly. If they don't, the butterfly won't be able to survive on his own.

Craig F said...

Here's your link, Nightmusic:Monarch Chrysalis

It amazes me that all through the world they look exactly the same, beautiful. I have a four foot section of fence with close a hundred empty ones here.

nightsmusic said...

Craig, thank you! And holy cow, that's a lot of empties.

The monarch today was the first one I've seen and it did spend a couple hours here. I'll check my milkweed in the morning to see if there are any eggs. I kind of doubt it though. Like I said, this is just a bad year. At least around here. :(

And Janet, I am SO not with it today...Monarch of Michigan...Monarch of the Glen. Yeah, took me awhile lol!