As spring unfolds it is always a special day when the first Monarch appears. Journey North tracks the first milkweed emerged, Monarch, egg, caterpillar, and chrysalis. In southern New Jersey our first Monarchs are the children of those that overwintered in Mexico. Generations are leapfrogging north to repopulate the eastern United States and southern Canada.
This Monarch, our first, sailed over our house and into the back yard. Our mid-April garden is mostly spring weeds, which I leave because so little else is in bloom. I’ve been observing elfins and other spring butterflies nectaring on our lush carpet of Chickweed and Purple Dead Nettle . . . so these weeds are keepers for now. The Monarch coursed back and forth and eventually found one of our Milkweed patches. The milkweed was just emerging, only up an inch or two. I didn’t even know it was “up” but this Monarch found it amidst the carpet of weeds. It laid eggs, sailed off, and disappeared from the garden and yard.
After about a fifteen minute walkabout it returned to our garden and made a Monarch-line right to the Milkweed tips, laying a few more eggs. It probably didn’t want to lay all its eggs in one Milkweed patch and was wandering the neighborhood looking for more. The fact that it kept returning, again and again, told the true story of a neighborhood all too rich in lawns.
Explore the milkweeds native to your region and create a Monarch Waystation of your own. Plant as many different milkweeds as the various habitats on your property will support. Barbara Pintozzi shares terrific information about Purple Milkweed. Scatter your milkweed patches hither and yon on your property, so visiting Monarchs don’t have to lay all their eggs in one spot. Invite all pollinators to your yard by planting just the right nectar plants to attract them. The Pollinator Partnership has terrific nectar guides region-by-region.
Think about joining me for the “Tours of Private Cape May County, NJ, Wildlife Gardens” in July, August, and September where you can see first hand many diverse pollinator gardens shimmering and glimmering with Monarchs and many other butterflies, caterpillars, bees, and joy!
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