Bring on the Monarchs!

Exciting News!

The milkweed is up in my garden at home and the gardens at school! Here are some photographs from yesterday.

Common Milkweed
Milkweed at school May 15, 2018
Common Milkweed Spring 2018
Common Milkweed germinating in lavender that was killed off during last winter.
Milkweed germinating Spring 2018
I Spy Milkweed, Can You?
Common MIlkweed Sprouting in Home Monarch Habitat
Common Milkweed Germinating Spring 2018 (5/15/18)

Mother Nature Provides

Milkweed erupts in the spring prior to the arrival of the Monarchs. This is Mother Nature’s way of ensuring that once the Butterflies arrive from their Journey Northward (migrating north from Mexico each spring), there are adequate plants for the Monarch to lay their eggs upon. Milkweed is the only plant that sustains the monarch life cycle. Adults lay their eggs, typically, on the underside of the milkweed leaves. Once the caterpillar emerges from the egg, after 1-4 days, it eats its own eggshell first (high in protein) and then proceeds to eat the leaves of the milkweed plant. The larval or caterpillar stage lasts 10-14 days, during which time the caterpillar will increase in size many times, causing it to shed its skin (molt) five different times during that stage of the life cycle.

If you want to plant milkweed in your yard, there are many sources.  Please note that while some claim they are “Free” there does seem to be a postage/handling/or gratuity fee. Read each source carefully. In addition, only milkweed native to your area of the country should be planted. Some sources are:

Monarch Watch Milkweed Market

Live Monarch Free Milkweed Seeds

Xerces Society Milkweed Seed Finder

Really Free Common Milkweed Seeds

In addition if you leave a contact email in the comments, I would be happy to send you some of my own, locally sourced common milkweed seeds. I have saved these seeds from my own gardens in the upper mid-west. Currently, I only have common milkweed seeds but in the future might be able to offer rose milkweed and swamp milkweed.  By leaving your email, you are agreeing to let me contact you to acquire an address to which I can send the seeds. United States residents only, please. I probably can supply the first ten people who respond as instructed above with common milkweed seeds that have been cold stratified and are ready for planting. Are you willing to help plant milkweed in your yard? It has been estimated that  over ONE BILLION additional stems of milkweed is what is needed to sustain the monarchs.

Citizen Science & Reporting Observations

Observing for milkweed in my garden each spring has become a ritual for me. Later today, I will act as a citizen scientist and report my findings to Journey North. I think my sighting this year is earlier than the last few years. It has been an odd spring.  But, the nice thing about the Journey North records is that one can track back to see what your prior year’s observations were.

I look forward to the Monarch’s arrival to the habitat I have lovingly prepared for them. I hope you join me on my journey of monarch conservation as I report my observations for this season!

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