Earlier this year I read disheartening reports about the numbers of Monarch butterflies being dramatically down in their wintering grounds in Mexico. Did it signal the beginning of the end for the Monarch?
So I had been getting a little depressed that, after five years of seeing lots of Monarchs and caterpillars here in our garden, and being certified as a Monarch Waystation, so far this year I had seen... nothing.
Well that was until this week. I was pulling nutsedge out of the new island bed and happened to notice two very healthy caterpillers on the Tropical Milkweed that I grew from seed.
So apparently we had been visited by at least one female Monarch - I had just missed her. Inspecting the rest of the plants in the garden, I was pleased to find a few more caterpillars, contentedly munching.
This one decided to move to pastures green. I thought he was moving to a neighboring plant, but when I looked the next day I couldn't find him.
When I got home from work, my husband showed me what he had found on the patio...
... look closer...
I'm not sure of course, but I like to think that this is the one I took a photo of, heading across the mulch of our island bed in a determined way. Eric said when he first saw it, it was still a caterpillar, attaching itself to the chair and beginning to curl up. When he looked later, it had fully pupated. Isn't nature amazing?
We also have milkweed in the front garden. It's tucked in behind the shrubs, which is good because it's looking very ragged already. I haven't seen caterpillars on it, but there must have been at least one, because I spotted this chrysalis on the eave of the house.
And then, as Eric and I were out in the garden on Friday evening, pulling weeds, harvesting cucumbers etc., we were finally visited by a Monarch butterfly. It stayed around the garden for quite a while, nectaring on several plants, giving me lots of photo ops.
It wasn't until I saw this photo on my computer that I realized there was a caterpillar on the underside of the leaf, in addition to the butterfly.
Words and photographs by Jayne Wilson, Green and Serene, Jayne's Country Garden.