Sorry to start off with excuses but the website host (weebly) has a quirk in their software, unresolved for two years, that swaps pictures from my phone with the ones I post here. I try to keep up with necessary corrections, but it’s like babysitting. Not of my making. Sorry!
Freshly hatched adult monarch butterfly- third generation. Notice the fresh wings, pristine components. This poor fella was blown away from his chrysalis during a storm and we found him trying to stretch and get moving. We thought it was dead until I noticed how fresh and new he was. A stunningly and amazingly beautiful insect that needs to be put on the endangered species list.
Biggest monarch caterpillar I’ve ever seen. Big well-fed larvae turn into huge healthy aggressive adult butterflies. Last year I planted ONE asclepias incarnata by the roadside sign, and that one plant seeded hundreds more. Its sunny and wet there, exactly what that plant needs to thrive. People driving by must think we dont care about how our nursery looks from the road (it looks a little weedy). Little do they know how many monarchs live and breed in that somewhat weedy-looking patch!
Monarchs also chomp on the seed pod sheath. Dunno why, but there is probably a great scientific reason why, knowing the mysterious monarchs… full of surprises!
Just-emerged monarch resting after hatching. This wanderer will fly 4,000 miles to Mexico. How do he know???
I do not know what kills them. It’s like losing a child when they turn to mush. When I can, I try to identify why.
I know from experience that monarchs never do this. I cut this one open, did an autopsy, and found this:
… little asshole trachid flies. I now pull the caterpillars off the stock plants and place them on far-flung Asclepias plants that have popped up around the nursery. When target insects are clustered together, it makes it too easy for the pathogen population to find them. It’s TOTAL WARFARE!!!
One chrysalis proudly displayed for all to see took too long to hatch- two weeks. It took on a dark green color. So I ……….. zoomed in really close.
…and saw yet another asshole pathogen I haven’t identified yet that had eaten the helpless guy as he was pupating. As if monarchs don’t have enough problems!!!! I’m gonna figure out how to produce the maximum monarchs on my property at home and at the nursery. Gotta work fast! Why, you ask?
It’s PATHETIC! Last year (2020), in California, they counted 1200 in the entire state. What did the tRUMP administration do? They refused to give the monarch butterflies protection with the endangered species act because it would anger his donors (also because tRUMP doesn’t give one iota about the environment).
Come to the nursery, I’ll give you seeds of milkweed to help them survive (but it’s going to take our government to step in with legal protection). Fingers crossed.