Friday, September 6, 2019

@monarchwatch @SaveOurMonarchs @journeynorthorg Our milkweed meadow monarch watch update #monarchbutterfly

Our Milkweed Meadow
Monarch Report
My last post talked about the many monarch caterpillars we have this summer thanks to allowing milkweed to grow in our front yard. In the USA, monarch butterfly populations have been declining rapidly due to habitat loss of mainly milkweed. Monarch butterflies need milkweed to survive. We grow it just for the monarchs.

We love milkweed's pleasant fragrance; it's a native plant. And, you do not need a green thumb to grow it. Any homeowner can grow it. Ours grows in a small area that we don't mow or water - basically, a mini (pocket) meadow.
This morning I went out to look for a monarch caterpillar that I noticed Sept. 2nd, hanging under a milkweed leaf in the classic "J" shape - shown in the top photo. And, sure enough, the caterpillar must have shed it's skin soon after I saw it and produced an outer green protective, thimble-sized, pupa (chrysalis) in perfect form. 

Wow! Super exciting to see; and, beautiful too. I never realized chrysalis have a sparkly gold band at the top. I also discovered another chrysalis hanging from a branch in a nearby shrub. 

When metamorphosis is complete, a spectacular monarch butterfly will emerge and join the others in a captivating fall migration. These special, fourth generation, monarch butterflies live the longest. This generation of south-bound butterflies travel over 2,000 miles to their over-wintering destination high up in the mountains of Central Mexico. And, when winter is over, they turn around and fly back to the USA - absolutely an amazing journey.

Updates: 9/15/19- The good news is the chrysalis under the milkweed leaf is still hanging. The bad news is that the leaf is shriveling up and dying now and won't last much longer. ...Come on butterfly... come on!! I just saw a monarch butterfly, but it wasn't this one. I have been watching 2 other chrysalis too; 3 in all. The one in the sun on a shrub branch has beads of sweat on it and you can see the darker butterfly wings inside! 

9/16/19- Guess What? Harry said the chrysalis on the shrub was dark in color this morning. By the time I got home from work, later in the day, the monarch was gone! The other 2, including the chrysalis on the dying milkweed leaf, have turned darker in color and look ready now too. My bet is sometime in the morning. I also saw another caterpillar! The Monarch life cycle is fascinating.

Related Links
Journey South
Monarch Butterflies Migrate 3,000 miles  
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