I’m Ready-Are You?

May the wings of the butterfly kiss the sun
And find your shoulder to light on,
To bring you luck, happiness and riches
Today, tomorrow and beyond.
~Irish Blessing

 

butterfly weed

Almost a year ago, I was wildlife gardening in earnest.  Everything I did was to help build a habitat for critters, especially for butterflies.  Not just for them to visit, but for them to build a home.  And the habitat has also become home now to birds, insects, frogs, snakes, toads and so many others.

The robins have built their home for a second year, the rabbits are in love with our organic clover and the wrens are back to nest.  Our first nesting bluebird family burst the seams to their home, and we had to buy them another one.  They just came back to find their new home, and they are quickly building another nest.  Everyday we have interesting critter encounters.  It is pure delight.

But I am still waiting for the butterflies.  Red Admirals spent quite a bit of time here this spring, and a couple of swallowtails floated through the garden, but none have stayed.  Of course their habitat is still being built with just the right plants.  But the monarchs, have a home just waiting for them.

common milkweed

The common milkweed that just showed up in the garden has grown into a nice couple of clumps since last year.  I am smitten with the flowers of this so-called common plant.  Added to the meadow and back garden is swamp milkweed.  There is echinacea, butterfly weed near the milkweed and lots of asters for late summer/fall nectar.  Scattered throughout the garden and meadow is phlox, bee balm, joe pye, yarrow, goldenrod, black-eyed susans and liatris.  These are some of the most desirable flowers for monarchs.

Now don’t get me wrong, I have created a nectar heaven for many butterflies, but especially monarchs.  And while I know soon they will be all over the garden drinking their fill, I am hopeful they will decide that my garden is just the perfect spot to entrust to their precious eggs.

monarch on butterfly weed

So where are they?  Our monarchs don’t always show up until late spring/summer.  Warm days with nectar plants abundant and larval plants ready for caterpillars and cocoons.  And when did the first monarch enter the garden?  This past weekend.  Now we just have to hope there will be more monarchs laying eggs on the milkweed.  I will know when I see the lovely yellow, black and white caterpillars chomping on the leaves.

Then I will be like a child searching the garden and meadow for cocoons.  Patiently waiting to watch emerging butterflies cover the meadow flowers to sip nectar, and gain strength to start the cycle all over again until fall when we bid them farewell for another year.

swamp milkweed

It is a lovely dream isn’t it?  One that is easily made into reality with just the right native plants.  Only a few are needed.  Some sort of milkweed and a delicious nectar plant.  I’m ready for the monarchs, are you?

 

If nothing ever changed, there’d be no butterflies.  ~Author Unknown

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

© 2012, Donna Donabella. All rights reserved. This article is the property of BeautifulWildlifeGarden.com We have received many requests to reprint our work. Our policy is that you are free to use a short excerpt which must give proper credit to the author, and must include a link back to the original post on our site. Please use the contact form above if you have any questions.

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Comments

  1. says

    I finally saw a monarch yesterday in the milkweed patch. I couldn’t see if it was a male or female, but I am going to look for the eggs as I know most will be eaten, parasitized or taken by european paper wasps when they get to a decent size larva…I will take the eggs and raise them on common milkweed no matter what they were laid on.. Easier to clean, easier to pick and I have more of it…when you get to release a healthy monarch, it is more of that magic…Now if the eyes let me find the eggs and the back lets me pick the milkweed….Michelle
    Rambling Woods recently posted..Nature Notes (#165)~Butterflies, dragonflies, beetles, worms, starfish, mussels, and crabs are but a few of the millions of invertebrates at the heart of a healthy environment…

    • says

      Wow Michelle it is quite a war zone for the monarchs in your patch. I had dozens in the meadow in late summer all over the asters so I am guessing my rate of predators is less here. I am trying to get common milkweed in the meadow…isn’t it funny but it does not grow there. Good luck with your search and release!
      Donna@Gardens Eye View recently posted..Simply The Best-June

      • says

        I was surprised to learn of the small numbers that survive from Monarch Watch and the european paper wasp which is non-native takes a large toll. I wonder if us being more suburban means more paper wasps as I see them searching the milkweed all the time….But there are now probably close to 80 common milkweed as my neighbor hasn’t mowed hers down yet..so there is hope..Michelle

        • eternal girl geek says

          Hi All, I’m trying to get some answers/opinions. I stumbled upon a european paper wasp nest today and started researching. I was inclined to leave it be, till I saw that it preyed on Monarchs. Most of you aren’t commenting on whether you destoyed the wasps or are allowing nature to take its course. I’ve planted milkweed and butterfly weed and lots of other appealing flowers/plants for butterflies over the last years. This early summer I saw Monarchs flying around and I was thrilled, but haven’t seen any for awhile and no eggs/larvae. Maybe when they sensed the wasps, they moved on? Should I get rid of the e.p.w.s to encourage more butterflies to hang around? Incidentally, I live in Wauwatosa WI and we get Monarchs stopping over during their migration.

          • says

            I will tell you that we do destroy these nests as they are not native and are considered invasive…we have been attacked by them as well. It is really a personal choice, but it does not help our native pollinators when an invasive species attacks.

            Native pollinators usually do not cause us problems and they may attack other pollinators but that is nature. We generally do not eliminate native pollinators. Hope I answered your question and thanks for stopping by.
            Donna Donabella recently posted..Grocery Gardening

          • eternal girl geek says

            Thank you Donna for the reply. I did go ahead and destroyed the nest that day. Your reply is a nice confirmation. Thanks.

  2. says

    This is the first year I have planted milkweed (it occurs naturally down the block). No monarchs as yet, but the queen butterflies seemed to like it. It’s funny that monarchs are one of the most well known and popular butterflies yet one of the least frequent of all my butterfly visitors. Glad you bluebirds are working out. I can’t see the nest up in the martin house and there was a hawk hanging arounnd there the other day, but mom and dad were back today. Need my field glasses to see if they are bringing food. Thanks for sharing your garden, Donna, it always is a welcome read.
    Loret T. Setters recently posted..Bird Brains

Trackbacks

  1. […] A story about trying to build a home for butterflies. Our place http://www.faasai.com is full of them http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10150177092915810.301296.96592850809&type=1 But reading this blog – I realise it is not so easy!   "For the past year  I have been wildlife gardening in earnest. Everything I did was to help build a habitat for critters, especially for butterflies. Not just for them to visit, but for them to build a home. And the habitat has also become home now to birds, insects, frogs, snakes, toads and so many others…but"  […]

  2. […] A story about trying to build a home for butterflies. Our place http://www.faasai.com is full of them http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10150177092915810.301296.96592850809&type=1 But reading this blog – I realise it is not so easy!   "For the past year  I have been wildlife gardening in earnest. Everything I did was to help build a habitat for critters, especially for butterflies. Not just for them to visit, but for them to build a home. And the habitat has also become home now to birds, insects, frogs, snakes, toads and so many others…but"  […]

  3. […] 44. I’m Ready, Are You? “And when did the first monarch enter the garden?  This past weekend.  Now we just have to hope there will be more monarchs laying eggs on the milkweed.  I will know when I see the lovely yellow, black and white caterpillars chomping on the leaves.” by Donna Donabella […]

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