Monarch Migration 2011

This post is inspired by a few things.

First there was my observation to my best friend and fellow nature nut that I hadn’t seen any Monarchs so far this year. We hypothesized that the drought and fires were taking their toll on them as they tried to work there way south. Then, about a week ago I saw this Washington Post article that confirmed what Cindy and I were thinking. That got me thinking about what people could do to help whatever butterflies did make it this way. This thought to try and help was confirmed when I saw a tiny Monarch caterpillar on one of the bedraggled milkweeds, in my garden, that managed to make it through the summer this year.

So, what can one do, to make oases in a vast drought stricken desert? As it turns out, a lot.

  1. Plant Milkweed in your garden. As much as you can (expect, that if monarchs come, this will be eaten by caterpillars).
    • Monarchs are dependent on milkweed.
    • They go there for nectar.
    • They lay there eggs only on milkweed.
    • The caterpillars will eat nothing else.
    • Tropical Milkweed, also called Butterfly Plant at nurseries is most commonly planted in TX butterfly gardens.
  2. Build a sand pond for the butterflies to get water and minerals
    • Take a 12 to 16 inch clay plant pot tray and spray it with waterproofing sealant (You can you a plastic one if you want).
    • Place it in a stable place, either on the ground or on an up side down pot.
    • Fill it with garden soil mixed with garden sand amendment (50/50 mix) such as used for lightening clays soils.
    • Scatter round river rock through out the sand for butterflies to land on but leaving access to the sand.
    • Soak the sand with water till it is not quite ready to puddle.
    • Keep the sand moist for butterflies (and other insects) to drink.
  3. Don’t have a garden?
    • Use a clean natural sponge soaked in sugar water (1 part sugar to 4 parts water).
    • Place it in a small saucer or or plant pot saucer.
    • Place it outside where butterflies can find it.
    • You can use a sponge and plain water in a saucer as a watering station too.
    • This is not as specific an attractant as the butterfly weed so you may need to tolerate other insects as well.

According to Texas Monarch Watch most of the butterflies have passed into Mexico. However, I am just starting to see them at my house so it’s worth the effort to see what you have come visit. Let me know.

You can find more information at Monarch Watch. Or at Texas Monarch Watch. ┬áIf you want to know what your state is doing try “googling” your state or try your Local Extention Office. The extension office link goes to a clickable map.

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