I was out watering, and doing a minimal gardening job as record heat is expected today, when I spotted my first Monarch Butterfly! If you haven’t yet seen my Monarch episode of episode of “Late Bloomer,” please check it out!
After my visit with Loree Bryer, citizen scientist for the Monarch, I planted three Tropical milkweed, three California native Fascicularis, and one Cinderella Butterfly milkweed. The tropical and butterfly weed stopped blooming a week after I put them in, so I did not expect Monarchs to find me this year. But, today, a female appeared!
When it was clear she knew exactly where my milkweed was located, I ran for the camera as she started laying eggs. She visited every adult plant. She deposited eggs on each one. She hangs on while she curves her body to lay the egg.
I tried looking for the eggs. I didn’t imagine my scrawny plants had been visited before, but what did I find? Four tiny Monarch caterpillars! The female lays a single egg on a different leaf.
And an egg! It’s not just a white blob. The detail is amazing.
For scale, here is a shot with my fingertip. You really have to look closely to find these, usually on the back of milkweed leaves, but, they can also be on the flowers. When the caterpillars hatch, they eat the egg shell, then the leaf and work their way down the plant.
I also found some aphids on another plant! Up close, they look quite forbidding! Hopefully, they will leave the Monarch eggs alone and not eat too many of my dwindling number of leaves.
Just so the Monarch didn’t steal the show, the Gulf Fritillary Butterfly reappeared and monopolized the Mexican Sunflower blooms.
An exciting morning of color and discovery. Have you found Monarchs in your garden? What other butterflies have you seen? Thanks for stopping by! - Kaye