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