Thursday, March 5, 2015

Preparing for take off . . .


Activity is reaching fever pitch . . . Elizabeth Howard

"getting ready to go"


Once or twice a week now I get an email in my inbox from Journey North with updates about the monarch activity in the mountain tops of Mexico, their overwintering site.

On February 26 there was a flurry of activity as the thirsty monarchs started breaking out their clusters on the trees looking for water, and within the month they will leave their winter home and begin their journey north to recolonize North America.

Which means, especially for those of us in Texas as the main migration corridor between Mexico and the States, please, please start planting nectar plants for their arrival, and milkweed for laying eggs. 

"The monarchs would come out of the trees each time that cumulus clouds
covered the sun. They reached almost unbelievably dense numbers, flying
out over the llanos. The trees were nearly emptied at such times. Literally
every cubic foot of air held at least one monarch."  El Rosario Sanctuary, Feb 21, 2015

Can you even imagine what a sight that is . . . sigh . . . I feel a lump in my throat thinking about it!! 

As they break out of their clusters, looking for water they will also be mating and the females will be looking for a place to lay their eggs when they get here. When they arrived in Mexico in the fall the typical monarch weighed 140 mg and per Journey North those energy reserves are about 70% depleted by now. They will be very hungry when they get here.

For those of you unaware there was a petition filed last year to put the monarch on the endangered species list and within the stipulations of that status they had said that citizens would only be able to raise 10 wild caught caterpillars. Let's just say that didn't go over very well in the monarch community and they have since revised it to read 100 caterpillars. It is only a suggestion though, and will be at the discretion of the service if it's listed as threatened. That is still 500 less than what I raised last summer alone.

I simply don't agree with listing the monarch as endangered. Their migration is what is in danger because we have lost nearly all (90% or more) of the native milkweed in the Midwest that used to grow in our row crops, now being sprayed with Monsanto herbicides. (That's a whole other post by itself)

I spent some time today pulling weeds, starting to prep the garden and thinking about what I want to plant. Purple trailing lantana ( with a heavenly scent) and a red-orange-yellow variety that I think is called Luscious Citrus Blend, were both really big hits with all the butterflies {and the hummers loved the red one}. I also plant different varieties of salvia, coneflower, zinnia, penta {both butterfly and graffiti varieties}, hyssop (didn't come back last year, and couldn't find it last summer), and black-eyed susan. I'm sure there is something I'm missing and I hope to add to the list this summer, including some different host plants for more butterflies.

Here's to diggin' in the dirt!

Love, Kim





27 comments:

jandi said...

Hello Kim, this is really fascinating. Thank you for sharing this x

doodles n daydreams said...

Yes I was looking at swan plant today and thinking I should get one or two for the monarchs for next season. They are fascinating to watch while they hatch.

Diana

Dina Lettre said...

So very exciting!!

Lisa Comperry said...

For years I have been wanting to plant flowers under our shade tree by the gate in the backyard..The light ranges from full sun to full shade on this 8 foot patch..It would be awesomely exciting to attract and help sustain the Monarchs with my choice of flowers :-)

Michelle said...

What a breathtaking sight it would be to see that many butterflies at one time!

Stephanie said...

Oh how exciting! The sight must be truly glorious!

Have a beautiful day, dear Kim. Hugs!

tiarastantrums said...

I love to read your updates on the monarchs. We never see them here anymore.

Susan said...

I have some seeds from my last milkweed plant and probably should get them started indoors. The freeze has been late this year, causing a delay in our flowering plants. Thanks for sharing a very educating and interesting post!

Linda said...

Beautiful!

Kim Cunningham said...

That is an amazing piece of artwork! I love how you educate us on these magnificent creatures.

Tamar SB said...

How exciting to get that update! Cannot wait to see your monarch pictures!

Cherie Froelich said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cherie Froelich said...

I got butterflies just reading your post! I have been planting milkweed for many summers trying to give those flying beauties a place to lay eggs and eat. We've had several "born" here. Oh what a treat that was to see! I see we are kindred spirits Kim. Your photo is stunning and makes me crave summer even more! We won't see the monarchs here in Illinois until late June-July! I wait in such anticipation every year! Thanks so much for linking up today!

Dotti said...

I'm so jealous! While you were digging dirt for flowers, we were digging out from under a foot of snow, the second in less than three weeks. Bah, humbug!

Brenda said...

What a gorgeous impressionistic image. Superb creation.

June Caedmon said...

Great information, Kim and I loved your image! I think you posted last year an informative article about where to find info on the host plants for monarchs. I think I book marked it, but will try to find your post again. I want to plant milkweed in my garden this year :)

terriporter said...

Such great information, Kim! I have a few of these planted already and will keep the rest in mind the next time I visit the nursery. But your image at the top . . . wow!!! So perfectly beautiful! I hope you have this made into a canvas or framed in some way. Just love it!

My Garden Diaries said...

You said it Kim!!!! Monsanto can go jump if you ask me! I get so frustrated just thinking about what they have done to our environment. I can't wait to see more about your butterflies this season and yes I plant native milkweed in my garden to help in the efforts to help the Monarchs. Thank you for doing what you do and passing on all of this important information! Nicole xo

Ida said...

What a lovely painting.
This is a very interesting read. I have some Milkweed seed that was sent to me. I guess this weekend will be a good time to plant it.

Jas said...

First off, poppies are my favorite. This was an interesting read and I love the colors of the painting. I'm ready to put my hands into dirt too as soon as all this snow melts. Thanks for linking up at Thursday Favorite Things, please visit us again next week!

Kelly Kardos said...

I know I'm preparing. I've got a few cats but something is eating them so I'm gonna move them from the front yard to the back. I adore that photo Kim. Wonderful and such an informative post.
Xo

Sandra said...

I just loved reading about the movements of the beautiful Monarch butterflies. What a lovely image at the beginning of your article too!
I shall come back to see what's happening and when these butterflies come your way!
Have a happy weekend.

Linda R said...

It is interesting how they migrate. A great post my friend.

Hugs~

Andrea Dawn said...

Stopping by from Photo Art Thursday, Kim. Love your butterfly creation and your passion for providing the Monarch's with all they need for survival.

Anita Johnson said...

This is so very exciting to read'! We have plenty of milkweed ready for them here in Wisconsin! I recently learned my neighbor is into Monarchs and raised 116 last year...and I was happy with just my 12! I can't believe you had so many..amazing! I look forward to learning more from her and hopefully photographing her process! Please keep us posted. I have only had the joy of seeing one roost...in California . I will never forget that sight!

ImagesByCW | C. Willison said...

Thank you so much for this information. I didn't even know about the migration of Monarchs...
I really love your image, painting, the colors, butterflies - all of it!

Marilyn said...

We do get a few of these beauties here in So. Calif. We have milkweed in our front yard. Looking forward to seeing them.

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