Sunday, 15 July 2018

Monarchs and Milkweed, our frequent flyers

The annual cycle of Monarchs
The butterflies have been amazing. We have a lot of Monarchs, as well as Swallowtails, Eastern Commas, fritillaries. The annual cycle of Monarchs continues from their first breeding in March in the south, the adult migrate north, breed again, and again, until they make it to their northernmost breeding ground, just north of us. Finally, they do the reverse, with the last life cycle taking place in August - November in the south of North America. There are four generations each annual cycle that migrate north and south, until their winter habitat in Mexico.

migration: north and south

Here in south eastern Ontario, we are about 250 km south of their northern habitat. They require milkweed as a host for the eggs and caterpillars. We have plenty of those in Ontario! For their migration, they require pollen from any flowers, not only milkweed.

Friday, July 13th, Annabelle and I watched this one laying eggs. I checked. Sure enough! It just takes a moment. We're doing Gramma Camp this week, so my grandies can watch them!

Monarch 2 from Jennifer Jilks on Vimeo.

Life Cycle

They spend 3 - 5 days as an egg. (It all depends upon temperature!)
Then, 11 - 18 days as larva (caterpillar).
Next, 8 - 14 days as a chrysalis. (Journey North provides this information.
It's hard to find an accurate source on the great garbage dump in cyberspace.

The eggs tend to be on the underside of the leaf, but not always.

Of course, lots of critters feed off of milkweed. The swallowtail, for example.

Also, bees, many milkweed tussock moths, red milkweed beetle, and Ctenucha virginia.
Milkweed plants from Jennifer Jilks on Vimeo.

This is an archive photo. The Port Carling library hosted monarch chrysalis to release. I know this a way down the line for us, but what a process.


Yamini MacLean said...

Hari OM
As we are fond of saying in "Blogville"... BEAUTIMOUS!!! YAM xx

Cloudia said...

You are a font of wonder!

Nancy J said...

When I was a child, I liked to find the moth chrysalis , but the monarch ones are amazing, as the colour changes until that magical moment,lovely to see them at your place.

Red said...

I would really like to spend a few hours with you watching butterflies.

Anvilcloud said...

All those butterflies must be great for you.

Karen said...

Milkweed is the most beautifully fragrant thing in my garden year after year. We have a huge clump of it right at the bedroom window and that heady scent greets us first thing on the warm mornings. I sure don't understand how it ever got labelled as a weed. We treat our milkweeds as precious flowers, sometimes putting tomato cages with tags around them if they are in any danger of being mowed.
I was following one monarch the other day. It was going to the underside of all the leaves, so there is no doubt in my mind that she was laying eggs.

William Kendall said...

Monarchs are a welcome sight.