Monarchs On The March!

It’s more like they’re on the wing–winging their way north, that is.  A quick bit of news about the North American Monarch butterfly, Danaus plexippus, from Texas Butterfly Ranch:

http://texasbutterflyranch.com/2015/03/29/let-the-migration-begin-milkweeds-sprout-as-monarch-butterflies-arrive-in-texas/

Scientists and citizen scientists report that the Monarchs left their wintering roosts in the mountains of Michoacán, Mexico on March 24th.   Whoop!!   My garden is  ready for the incredible migratory insects with Tropical Milkweed, Asclepias curassavica that overwintered in my gardens and is sprouting new growth,IMGP6681.new

…and a couple of new, one-gallon plants of the same, with more foliage, ready for eggs and larvae.IMGP6685.new

Additionally, Austin’s fabulous local nursery, Barton Springs Nursery, now has a regular supplier of native milkweed and my gardening/blogging buddy, TexasDeb at austin agrodolce, kindly picked up a couple of A. tuberosa for me recently, which I popped into the ground this past weekend.

IMGP6687_cropped_2890x2705..new IMGP6686.new

The Asclepias species of plants are the host plant for the Monarch, which cannot survive without it.  I’ve ordered a flat of native milkweed to plant in my spot of the world and to share, from monarchwatch.org, but I don’t know when it will arrive.  That organization is now selling four-inch pots of native milkweed throughout North America, with delivery dates in spring.  I hope I receive the milkweed soon, preferably before the Monarchs arrive in Central Texas, but if not, the plants will be here in  fall and hopefully, beyond.

The Monarchs headed to Central Texas are those who left Canada in September, migrated southward across North America and into Mexico for winter. They are the longest surviving Monarch generation, living 7 to 9 months. That generation will migrate to and mate in Texas, lay eggs and die. Monarchs lay their eggs on the milkweed plants, the larvae eat, grow,  morph to adulthood and the adults of the next generation move northward, ending in the last Monarch generation of the year hatching in late summer.  That generation  leaves Canada in August/September and migrates several thousand miles south  to Mexico for winter.

It’s a cool and wet spring in Texas this year with lots of blooms, native and otherwise, which is good for the “first” generation that will hatch in the coming 6-8 weeks. Whether there is enough milkweed for the parents to lay eggs is the question and only time and population increase, will tell.  I wrote about the precarious situation of this remarkable insect here, if you’d like to know more about their plight.

You can follow the northward migration by reading Monarch Butterfly Journey North.

Here they come!

IMGP2084.new IMGP2251.new

16 thoughts on “Monarchs On The March!

  1. I couldn’t get a long enough look to make a definite identification, but I am pretty durned sure I saw a lone monarch out front yesterday afternoon. An across the street neighbor had a large bed of tropical milkweed last year that drew a certain amount of regal attention, so I’m hoping it was an early returnee, checking out the potential nursery accommodations .

    Let the great migration begin!

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    • Ooooh, that is exciting! I hope you have some action in your area.

      I thought I spotted one in February–way too early to be a migrating one. IF it was a Monarch (flew fast through the garden) I guess was an overwintered individual.

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  2. It’s so amazing how these butterflies know exactly when to migrate! Wonderful post, and thanks for the link to monarchwatch.org for ordering milkweed plants. I have several but they have yet to make an appearance. Hopefully they’re still alive somewhere beneath the soil!

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    • I think the milkweed are a bit pokey this year–mine certainly seem to be. I’ll post about the milkweed from monarchwatch.org when I get it–I hope it works out.

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  3. Oh this is wonderful and glad so many are helping them live, breed and move north to us….those that visit here will sometimes lay eggs and sometimes not but move further north…those that visit me for about a week in fall will migrate to Mexico…how glorious.

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  4. Yay! So exciting! And you are ready–that’s wonderful. My Milkweed hasn’t sprouted yet, but that’s not surprising for this far north. A few warm days and it will begin. I love A. tuberosa–that beautiful orange color of the blooms! But the butterflies (and hummingbirds!) seem to prefer A. incarnata in my garden. When it’s blooming, the garden is chock full of beautiful pollinators, including Monarchs! Enjoy the first migrants!

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    • It is exciting and I hope to have monarchs through the garden soon. It sounds like you have an excellent pollinator garden–perfect for your late spring, summer and fall visitors.

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