Monday, August 6, 2012
Monarchs - Time to Bulk Up
Monarchs – Time to Bulk Up
I was reading about monarch butterflies. It seems they only like milkweed plants so I was thinking that I might plant some milkweeds for next year. Then I looked out at my butterfly bush, the buddleia, and saw a monarch happily flitting from one flower cluster to another. Hmm.
So I read further. There are four stages to a monarch’s life. Monarchs lay their eggs on milkweed plants. The eggs hatch into larvae or caterpillars, which feed on the plants. They then wrap themselves up in cocoons, where they go into a metamorphosis that turns them into the butterflies. At this point the monarchs can eat from other flowers, including my butterfly bush. Whew. Let them bulk up on my bushes. They will need all the nourishment they can get for their long fall migration.
I found out that each butterfly species has a specific plant that the larvae feed on. And many of those plants, the milkweed included, are being cut down – to build houses, to construct roads, because of wildfires, illegal logging and deforestation of overwintering areas. On personal properties, they are often viewed as unwanted weeds. This is causing a decrease in the monarch population.
There are reasons to preserve the monarch butterfly (see Conservation points), not the least being that all of nature has a place in this world. I was glad to see the lone monarch on my butterfly bush. I wish it and its companions a successful flight.
Life cycles and more: