Monarchs in the Gardens

Yesterday I found several Monarch Butterflies nectaring on the Joe-pye Weed that’s blooming in the hedge behind the condo.

Monarch on Joe-pye Weed 8-28-13

I was so glad to see them!

This is the time of year when Monarchs begin their journey south to Mexico to spend the winter.  Individual butterflies can travel as many as 3,000 miles, from the northern United States and Canada, to central Mexico.  It’s nice to be able to offer them food along their way – Joe Pye Weed and other native flowers are especially good nectar sources.

You may have noticed that there haven’t been many Monarchs this year.  That’s because their numbers are declining dramatically.   Last winter their population was lower than it’s ever been; less than half of what it was the winter before.

As more of our land is developed, there are fewer and fewer milkweed plants for Monarch caterpillars to eat.  Agricultural practices are also changing – we’re leaving fewer milkweed plants along roads and field edges and in row crops, we’re planting more fields and planting them all the way to the edges, and we’re using more pesticides.

Click HERE, and HERE to read two articles about the status of the Monarch population by Chip Taylor, director of Monarch Watch.

So the more help we can give them on their journey, the better.   Thanks to everyone who has been helping plant native flowers around the condo – Monarchs need all the help they can get!