Monday, March 19, 2012

Bring on the Monarchs

Monarch Butterfly Danaus plexippus Milkweed
Monarch Butterfly Danaus plexippus Milkweed (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The weather has been so absolutely lovely, that I couldn't help but get into a little spring cleaning in the yard. I actually wanted to burn brush, so to prepare for that, I set out to create a clearing by using the leaf blower.

I proceeded to blow all the leaves away from the driveway and small turn around area, aiming them at a huge brush pile at the end of the driveway. I also wanted to clean out an area next to it where some cedar trees had sprouted, crowding out the oak trees.

My husband, John, took care of that chore with the chain saw and loppers. It is amazing how many little things grow where they don't belong.

The job proved to be much more time-consuming and labor-intensive than I ever intended, so we never did get around to lighting a match. During this leaf-blowing extravaganza though, I made a wonderful discovery. I found two milkweed plants at the base of an oak tree. There could be more, but these two were recognizable because they still contained seed pods.

Coincidentally, I've been haranguing on Facebook lately about Monarch Butterflies. They are one of the few butterfly species that migrate. They are in jeopardy for many reasons, but one of them is because of the strong herbicides being used in genetically modified (GMO) corn production, which I've also mentioned a dislike for on Facebook once or twice.

Milkweed is vital to the Monarch because the female Monarch lays her eggs on milkweed. In the larvae stage, the caterpillars only eat milkweed plants. These plants are basically essential to the survival of these beautiful butterflies.

I've always had a special place in my heart for them. As a small child I chased them around in fields. I've observed them, photographed them, and just plain enjoyed watching them. I cannot imagine life on earth without them.

I had even considered looking for a source of milkweed seeds to plant in the yard. Now I have my own source.

So, c'mon Monarchs. Our place is Monarch-friendly. Y'all are welcome here any time and you may stay as long as you like.