The monarch season has started.
We have had several butterflies laying eggs on our swan plants already, though it is barely spring, and the last monarch only hatched from its chrysalis inside in mid-August. I photographed two butterflies in early September (both faded and untagged) and John saw at least one other about a week before that (late August). So all going well we should have baby caterpillars in another week or two. I guess it depends on the temperatures – if cold they will take longer or maybe not hatch at all. Now we also have to be on the lookout for predators: ants will eat the eggs, and once we have caterpillars, wasps could be a problem again as they were last spring/ summer.
Some of the swan plants have grown very tall. We had intended to prune them back but waited too long (unless as John suggests, we go ahead but keep the cut pieces in a bucket of water inside until any caterpillars have emerged).
It was very windy yesterday, with some heavy showers of rain in between periods of sunshine – pretty typical spring weather I think. Earlier in the day I saw one butterfly clinging to the swan plant out the front: it was being blown every which way. As the rain was blowing directly into the front door at the time I retreated inside and left it. Later I had to rescue another large swan plant: the gusty winds had broken one branch right off and the remainder was splitting down the middle. I think I did a good job of binding it up – time will tell.
Update: Today the weather is gorgeous with sunshine and blue sky, but we’re going through another cold snap with predicted overnight lows of between 1-4degC over the next few days.
Monarch laying eggs on swan plant
Monarch laying eggs in the spring sunshine – this one appears to have lost part of a wing