By S. J. Brown
Saturday morning I will be hosting a group of fellow gardeners on our back deck. We will be talking about Monarch Butterflies. I began tagging Monarchs three or four year ago and have learned a lot about them since. So I will be sharing some of my wisdom along with some milkweed seeds.
Milkweed is essential for the survival of Monarch Butterflies since they will only lay their eggs on milkweed plants. When the caterpillars emerge they gorge themselves on the poisonous milkweed which makes them taste bad to predators like birds and wasps.
My latest addition to our yard is a butterfly garden. Butterflies are attracted to red, yellow, orange, pink and purple flowers so I made sure to include all of these colors in my garden. It has enticed a variety of butterflies to visit, but no Monarchs yet. They should be arriving in our area soon. I am hoping at least one will make an appearance for our little group.
Monarch Butterflies aren’t just pretty they are pollinators, and also an indicator species. Scientist use indicator species to judge the health of our environment. Unfortunately Monarch butterfly numbers are declining. While Mother Nature does play a role in regulating the number of any one species mankind also plays a role. The destruction of habitat for development and the practice of mowing down milkweed and other beneficial plants has impacted Monarch numbers greatly.
However with help from home gardeners and groups like Monarch watch I am confident that Monarch numbers will increase. Tagging Monarchs helps keep track of their numbers from year to year. The tags are a little round sticker with reference numbers on them. They aren’t much larger than the tip of a pencil eraser. The tag is placed on the base of the Monarchs hind wing. Before the butterfly is released the date, location, and sex of the Monarch is recorded. This information is added to the information collected throughout the country and sent to Monarch Watch where the numbers are tallied.
Monarch Butterflies are only in my area for a short time so I try to get as many photographs as I can. However photographing butterflies is not that easy. They flutter from one bloom to another and often prefer the top of my butterfly bush. But experience has taught me to be patient, they will often return to the same plant after a few minutes. So I no longer chase them around the yard instead I sit and wait for them to return. While I wait I capture images of the other visitors to my garden.
Thanks for stopping by I hope you learned a little about Monarch Butterflies and enjoyed the photos.
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