I apologize that I have let this go. Real life has a tendency to rear it’s head and interfere with things.
Of the twelve eggs I had at the end of July, only 7 made it to pupation. All were female and were released mid-August. Sadly, except for one instance, they were the only monarchs I ever saw in the garden. From their release to now, I have not seen another monarch, and I am not alone reporting this.
As I wrote in March, there is great concern for the monarch butterfly. It is feared that the low population density found last year could be just as bad this coming winter – if not worse. Chip Taylor, of Monarch Watch, explained the reasons for the decline in March which included loss of milkweed and unusual weather conditions that were adverse to the health of the adults.
This year was not much better. While the monarchs are not yet endangered or threatened, the annual migration is considered a threatened phenomenon by IUCN. After my experience this summer, I fully believe this and the idea of never seeing these beautiful creatures again scares me.
It’s time to get serious, everyone. In Neenah, Wisconsin, a woman growing milkweed for monarchs was ordered to remove it. Fortunately the town is rethinking their laws. But there are many more in Wisconsin – and perhaps around the US and Canada – that still do have laws against milkweed. Also, there are homeowners who look upon our milkweed patches with disdain, asking us why we grow such an invasive plant. These people need to be educated.
There are very few people in this world who dislike butterflies, and many who equate their beautiful flights to peace and tranquility. It is understandable that many have difficulty recognizing the link between a tall, “ugly”, “invasive” weed and the idyllic scene of a monarch fluttering up and down and back and forth in a meadow of wildflowers
That has to be changed.
We need to invite these neighbors into the milkweed patch and let them enjoy the scent of the blooming flower and the sight of bees, moths and butterflies getting nectar. We need to Boil them a young, green milkweed pod and have them try it. To invite them and their children, or grandchildren, to find eggs, caterpillars or chrysalis’ in the patch. For those of us who raise monarchs, we need to take them into the house to show them, especially if we have a variety of eggs, instar’s, J’s and chrysalis as this makes it better for explaining the life cycle.
We should give chrysalis’ as gifts to our neighbors, especially those with young children. Perhaps hung in a 1-quart mason jar decorated with ribbons or bows, with instructions on when the adult should emerge, the signs that it’s about to (blackening), and how the adult will hang from the chrysalis and why (expanding the wings).
We should give these chrysalis’ to the politicians in our towns or cities to encourage the horticulture of milkweed, or to remove ordinances that prohibit or limit it.
We should give the chrysalis’ to school teachers so that their students can watch and learn about them.
If we have a bunch of adults that have emerged, we should do like many monarch or butterfly festivals do: hold a tagging party with our neighbors and friends where they can each tag and release a butterfly. And, later, they check online to see if their butterfly was ever spotted.
But the goal is to provide a reason for our neighbors, friends, politicians and businesses to grow milkweed: a gift that, in 10 to 15 days, can be experienced. A beautiful, wondrous creature they can hold in their hand, if but for a fleeting moment, before it lifts in flight and flutters to a beautiful day. A creature that will amaze children to the delight of parents and grandparents.
This may not be the best answer. There will be those stubborn individuals who will just not be changed, but I think many more will, at the least, be accepting.
These are just the ideas from a depressed, introverted guy who has difficulty facing the real world each day. I can only imagine what you extroverted, go-getters can think of!
Stay tuned as I hope – in a few weeks – to show you another thing you can do with milkweed for the upcoming holidays.