Dear Monarch friends,
It’s been an odd summer here weather-wise, and the garden is responding in unpredictable ways. The swamp milkweed bloomed, is going to seed, leaves are drooping, and some of the plants are infested with a variety of insects that feed on milkweed, including aphids, beetles, bugs, and tussock moths. The plants are looking bedraggled and spent, not surprising considering the unusual August heat. I discovered that one of my plants in a raised bed just got too big for its britches. It’s root bound and stressed, so I know I will need to dig it up this fall and transplant it to where it can have more room.
Nevertheless, I have seen more monarchs this year than last year – adults nectaring, eggs, and all stages of instars. This is good news. They are feasting on the leaves, flowers, and now the seeds, and even some of the less appetizing plants are being devoured. I have seen quite a few mature to the fifth stage instar, but have only found one ready to metamorphosize thus far. (It’s forming the J shape, hanging from the arm of one of my Adirondack chairs.) I am hoping some more made it, and are just harder to find. From my observations, I am currently watching the second generation develop in my garden, and if any of them make it to adulthood, they will join the super migrators heading to Mexico before too long.
The link below is summary data of information I have been collecting on a weekly basis for MLMP – the Monarch Larva Monitoring Project – a community science project. People like us all over the country are submitting data to this portal. The organization will use the data to track nationwide monarch density and summary population trends. It involves a commitment of 30 minutes – 1 hour each week, depending upon how many plants you are monitoring. You should consider signing up next spring. It’s fun and will help fine-tune your observational skills.
What are you observing in your garden? Send us some photos!