Not the Day I Planned
Can you spot the three eggs? Click to Enlarge!
Monday's shenanigans started Friday. On Friday, while I was working my regular job, a friend from church came in to ask questions about rocks. We chatted for quite awhile as we walked the yard, looking at boulders and such. I knew that she loved monarch butterflies because she has a bumper sticker that reads: "Got Milkweed?" I mean seriously. How many people do YOU know with that bumper sticker?
So anyway, we exchanged emails for further communication. And Saturday, she sends an email that says she has just watched a monarch in her yard--already laying eggs on her milkweed, which here in Western North Carolina has barely gotten its head above the dirt. Fortunately, as a huge enthusiast with an official
, she is well equipped. FAR more milkweed in her yard than mine. Which was all fine until Sunday, when a monarch showed up in MY yard and placed so many eggs that I knew I would have starving caterpillars in no time. The eggs hatch in only 3 days. THREE DAYS!!!!
Which led to Monday. Thanks to my new best monarch friend, I had received an email that listed nurseries with confirmed supplies of one variety or another of milkweed. Off to a nursery! (I just hate that, of course.) Just in case some of you aren't aware, monarch caterpillars can't eat anything but milkweed--so if the supply is short, some won't mature into butterflies. Milkweed makes monarchs poisonous to consume, thus protecting both the caterpillar and the butterfly from consumption by most of the typical predators.
We ended up at
in Hendersonville, NC. They had a large supply of
, (Swamp Milkweed) as opposed to
would have to do! The primary difference for my yard is space. Swamp Milkweed loves mucky clay soil (no problem there) but gets much taller than the regular Butterfly Weed, reaching up to six feet in ideal conditions. Butterfly Weed maxes out at about two feet and prefers drier soils. I have patches of both--but neither was going to be big enough for an onslaught starting this early. Brought home three pots of the swamp milkweed and set the pots near the other plants for the transferring of caterpillars as the need arises. Going to have to give both patches some organic fertilizers/nutrients and hope for the best!
Monarchs have a hard row to hoe--flying to Mexico and California and then back here to the rest of the U.S. and Canada to lay eggs. A couple or three generations will cycle through here in the course of a summer, with the last generation (the ones that ate all my milkweed in September) heading South for the Great Migration. Their lives are short--but they enrich ours immeasurably.
The monarchs are coming--Got Milkweed?
For a complete list of native milkweeds, check this