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Monarch butterflies

07/13/2012 in gardening

Due to the Monarch butterfly coming under attack by Ortho, I feel like it’s time to revisit this post originally posted at myspace on August 2009.

incredible multi-generational migration

If we ever build those multi-generation starships, we prolly oughta blend in some monarch butterfly genes into the peeps chosen to make the journey to help everyone stay on track.

While the monarch may not be the prettiest butterfly to visit the middle Georgia garden, it certainly has the most impressive story…. Every school child knows the story of the monarch’s incredible journey, this blog post concerns making sure our garden plays a supporting role….
Even freshly hatched, the cats are all over the milkweed.

Travelin on…

Here’s one that is soon to build a chrysalis, but before it does, it took a good look at the neighborhood… it ate leaves from 4 different butterfly-weed plants, I caught up with it as it dozed on a sassfrass leaf.

Butterfly-weed (asclepias tuberosa) is difficult to grow from seed, and difficult to transplant, but an important addition to the garden in spite of the necessary extra effort.

butterfly-weed makes quite the show, aside from it’s part in the monarch’s migrations…

Quite attractive to other butterflies as well…swallowtails on butterfly-weed

If one is lucky enough to already have butterflyweed in the garden, probably the easiest way to propagate is through root cuttings. Very scary stuff… asclepias tuberosa has one root… dig it in the spring and cut an inch of root from the bottom, plant the original, plus the new cutting.(s)…cutting

The cutting should develop into a new plant within the month…

I’ve been grouping my milkweeds, it helps the monarchs find them… This should surprise no-one… After all, big fields of a single crop creates conditions favourable to the “bad bugs”….

Monarch visits Whorled-leaf Milkweed.

Close-up of bloom.

Butterfly sex… new caterpillars on the way!

Monarch Chrysalis

New butterfly, recently emerged from the chrysalis.

Is your garden a welcome center to this amazing traveler?
How many kinds of milkweeds do you grow in your garden?

Searching “free milkweed seed” on google will immediately turn up numerous offers, if you don’t have a stand of milkweeds yet.

There are an amazing array of milkweeds native to Georgia.

Chemicals are bad in the butterfly garden

It’s absurd that Ortho thought that the monarch caterpillar was a good example of the bad bugs that people needed to be killing.

I don’t think that it’s that far-fetched, though. When you consider that those poisons kill all the bugs in the garden, good bugs, neutral ones, as well as the bugs that compete with us for the munchies.

Having the very desirable monarch caterpillar on the bag was probably a good warning about what the gardener was losing by using the product… fair warning and all that.

These chemical companies are dealing in dangerous substances, and have gotten rather blase’ about what they are doing.

It hasn’t been that long since Scotts was fined for selling poisoned bird food, and the NWF was fixing to go into a partnership with them!

Please tell me about your efforts to attract monarch butterflies to your garden in the space provided below.

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12 responses to Monarch butterflies

  1. Really hope you have all managed to get Ortho to clean up their act, wish we were on the flight path of such a beautiful butterfly!

  2. I wonder how many colors of milkweed exist? I notice you have solid yellow and solid orange. I have the multi-colored red and yellow. Might be some orange in it, too. I haven’t found it difficult to grow from seed but I have had trouble, over the years, trying to get it to come back on its own after the winter.

    • stone said on 07/15/2012

      Linda, you have tropical milkweed (Asclepias curassavica), which comes up very easily from seed and stem cuttings. I also have that, see the first monarch picture.
      The solid orange and solid yellow butterfly weeds (asclepias tuberosa) are very different plants.

      There are a world of different milkweeds out there for the collector, Just the ones growing wild in Georgia are pretty diverse.

      Here’s one that is a vine…
      milkweed vine

      • Now THAT is bizarre looking. Kinda like starfish. Is that in your yard and does it still act as a host plant for butterflies? Have you ever dealt with Swallowtail Garden Seeds? I like the way they say that something goes with something else. I’m aiming for what I guess is that “cottage” garden and I don’t always know what to put in front of something or next to it.

        • stone said on 07/16/2012

          The milkweed vine (gonolobus) is growing in a couple of my gardens, I haven’t gotten it to come up from seed yet at my house…

          Nope, I hadn’t heard of your seed supplier, but I did google them, and look around.

          Cottage gardens, fairy gardens, medicinal gardens, all pretty similar.
          I like to group similar leaf shapes, and growing habits. When growing perennials (esp. in the shade garden), you generally have the leaves to look at for most of the year, with a short bloom period.

          • Guess what I found on my tropical milkweed plant this evening (Monday)? At least four monarch butterfly caterpillars. At least that’s what they look like. I would be pleased to have some monarch butterflies — never see them much at my place.

          • stone said on 07/16/2012

            How nice!
            Be sure to take lots of pictures!

  3. Donna said on 07/20/2012

    I do not grow milkweed, but live right next to the Niagara Gorge that does. It is caterpillar heaven there. Liked your images, never saw butterfly sex before.

  4. I have 2 Asclepias Tuberosa but so far there has been no Monarch butterflies visiting. I would like to attract some. I do have a lot of Passiflora Incarnata, the host plant for Fritillary Larvae. We have dozens of them flying around the Lantana every summer.

    I saw a Tiger Swallowtail viviting the Yoshino Cherries last Sunday.

    • stone said on 08/05/2015

      It helps when we mention where we are gardening.
      Last year was a very poor year for monarchs.
      I didn’t see any…
      I did see some viceroy butterflies though…

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