Oh What a Day!
I think it was just a perfect day! After finding a sincere pumpkin patch and locating a large, golden orange squash that would please even the Great Pumpkin, I returned to my cabin to find a Monarch butterfly, Danaus plexippus, enjoying the many varieties of asters that I have in the yard. What a delightful surprise! During this butterfly season, from spring until now, I had only seen a grand total of two Monarch butterflies.
My first Monarch sighting was in mid-July, way up the mountain. He was flitting back and forth from one fleabane flower to another. It was another month until I saw another one, just one. I managed to get some pictures of the first one (above) but the second sighting went without photographs.
Where Are They
In other years, the Monarchs have been much more plentiful. The photo, above, was taken in June 2010 and shows a Monarch feasting on a purple coneflower. My gardens this summer have had lots of purple coneflowers blooming. It didn’t attract any Monarchs though.
It made no difference that sunflowers were around, Monarchs just weren’t there.
It made no difference that gaillardia was blooming in my garden earlier this summer. But today I saw 6 or 7 of these beautiful, rich orange and black creatures! Hooray! These butterflies are beginning their long migration, all the way to Mexico. I wish them well, finding plenty of good weather and the foods they need along the way.
I’m going to be putting more native Milkweed, Asclepias, in my garden. Milkweed is the only plant that Monarch larvae eat, and I want to make them feel at home here on my mountain! AND I will be reading, and listening to reports from scientists who study butterflies to learn why there have been so few this butterfly season.