A ‘Common’ Discovery for Season’s First Monarch Eggs
In spring 2012, monarch butterflies started migrating into Minnesota at the end of April, enchanting our gardens for over five glorious months.
In 2013, we’re paying the piper…with interest! April and May were cold and dreary, as old man winter tested the limits of our ‘Minnesota nice’. June has been much warmer, but a surprise monsoon season hasn’t exactly filled most gardens with fluttering joy.
Well, June 26th was finally the day when a majestic monarch finally started the ‘circle of life’ in our lonely butterfly garden.
It all started Tuesday, June 25th. I was enjoying the sweet scent of our common milkweed blooms, when something shiny caught my eye. I leaned down toward the pink-infused buds of a large asclepias and saw what I’ve been hoping to discover since mid-may….monarch eggs!
However, my excitement was short-lived as I quickly realized the lone egg was transparent….PREDATORS 1, MONARCHS 0 (Unfortunately, this game can become quickly lopsided in favor of the predators without some gardener assistance.)
It’s estimated about 5% of monarchs survive in the wild. In our gardens, it might even be less depending on how many predators have discovered your monarch plants.
I left my milkweed patch that Tuesday feeling mildly disappointed, but also excited to have found proof of nearby monarch butterflies.
The next morning, as I watered my plants, I turned to the left and there she was!…a butterfly beauty absorbing the heat of the morning sun.
She flew around the entire yard, which is a cornucopia of milkweed containing swamp, tropical, common, and more! She seemed a bit shy so I went inside to give her some privacy. When I came back, this lovely orange and black easter bunny had left some of her 400 children in our common milkweed patch.
Monarch females are particularly adept at hiding their eggs from predators so leave no leaf unturned in your searches. Top hiding places include tiny seedlings, milkweed plants located away from the main patch, on/inside green flower buds. This egg was much more difficult to see without the dark background:
If you haven’t found monarch eggs yet, don’t despair! The season started slow, but the 2012 drought is becoming a bad memory, and soaking rains are giving way to more milkweed plants in 2013.
Also, keep in mind…once the monarchs find your garden, the location is likely engrained in the genetic maps of future generations. Our garden hasn’t been ‘flown by’ in over 30 years. I look forward to helping your garden become another regular destination along the winding monarch trail.