Posts Tagged ‘monarch migration’

During our dreams we do not know we are dreaming.
– Master Zhuang, Chinese philosopher, 300 BC


Nighttime temperatures continue to fall, daytime temps are cooling.

Still the second Monarch chrysalis remains.  Green with golden zipper, it adheres to westward facing vinyl siding.  Unmoving, its inhabitant deep, even lost, in a transformational dream.

Compelled by its own nature to form its chrysalis, it may never emerge,  gone already into endless sleep.  So too, it may yet emerge against the odds,  to attempt a challenging migration.

If successful in breaking free of caterpillar form, and if it survives the battering journey south, it will join a multitude of its own.  Together, in company and concert, to experience a lifetime that was once only a cellular dream.

Something to that.



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Checking the tomato patch this morning, the darkened Monarch chrysalis was unchanged.

By noon, the same report.

By late afternoon, only an empty husk of a once bejeweled green chrysalis remained.

In the garden, astride a Verbena bonariensis, was a brilliant Monarch butterfly slowly fanning its wings.

By early evening, it was gone.

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Nights are cool, leaves are changing, autumn arrives this evening.

After a hard spring, it was a good summer.  With a focus on soil health,  the garden thrilled as never before.

Flowers blossomed, vegetables and children grew.  As a Monarch butterfly Waystation, our garden enjoyed the summer-long company of Monarchs and a bumper crop of their caterpillars.

Still gathering tomatoes, I unloaded another basket in my kitchen just now.  To my surprise, I found a darkening Monarch chrysalis attached to the side of a fully ripe tomato.  I carefully replaced the tomato in the garden.  Along the siding of the house, I spotted another chrysalis.  With luck, both butterflies will emerge soon to begin their southward migration.

Years ago, a late-blooming Monarch butterfly named Longshot was unable to take to the skies by the time it emerged. Here is hoping these two make it.

Flowers, butterflies and humans – they all have a better chance of emergence when the conditions are right.

I will keep you posted.

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Yesterday my youngest went on a nature walk with his class around the wetland area surrounding the school campus.  While surveying a stand of milkweed, he was thrilled to locate  a monarch caterpillar noshing on a leaf and excitedly shared his find with the class.

We went back after school today to take a look at our newly found friend.  My son ran ahead of me on the boardwalk built to protect the environs, only to reappear seconds later downcast.  The milkweed stand, some two feet away from the boardwalk had been mowed, only shards of stems and ragged leaves remained — gone too was the young caterpillar.

This  mishap echoes the greater decimation of milkweed across the United States.  As the primary host plant of the monarch butterfly, milkweed  has come under attack from habitat development, herbicide use – and errant human aesthetics – of the kind that mowed the native habitat in our wetland.

We take so much, we give so little.  In my small garden I cultivate five different varieties of milkweed, provide cover, shade and water.  It does not touch the loss of one or  one million acres of lost milkweed – but at least it exists.  Do you want to keep breathing oxygen?  Plant a tree.  Want to see beauty on the wing?  Plant a milkweed.   Think global, act local, as they say.

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Returning to our regularly scheduled programming…

According to Monarch Watch, overall monarch migration numbers east of the Rockies are down.  The autumn migration is underway with Mexico-bound monarchs just broaching drought-stricken territories in Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas – as the report put it, 1000 miles of hell – a nearly flowerless / nectar less and waterless expanse.

Our six intrepid adventurers remain chrysalis-bound as days grow shorter, nights colder, and nectar bearing flowers in my own garden begin to fade.  Emergence is expected within two to eight days.

Will these stalwart individuals survive their transformation?  Will  daytime temperatures and nectar supplies still support life when they do emerge?  Can they endure the journey south and navigate  inhospitable terrain to find their own kind?

…Wait, this sounds like life after divorce…

Stay tuned.

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