Let’s face it, it has been a rough summer for monarchs! I usually look for my first monarch the first week of June. It was mid July before the first straggler showed up. In addtion, I usually have many caterpillars on my butterflyweed and swamp milkweed. I did not see one this summer. Monarchs are part of my summer experience and not being around them this summer left me feeling pretty sad. I am worried about their population numbers and if we will see more next summer. I think I saw a grand total of 9 monarchs this summer.
Imagine my surprise yesterday, Aug. 22, I saw 6 newly hatched monarchs on one Blazing Star plant at the Friends of the Trail Prairie, Minnetonka, MN. Today when I went back to the prairie, there were 21 monarchs, all nectaring on the Rough Blazing Star (Liatris aspera). They were in perfect condition, ready for the long migration south. The wind was blowing from the south, and the butterflies were probably unable to continue their journey.
Monarch butterflies are one of the earliest animals to migrate and one of the few insects that travel south. These amazing butterflies fly over 1700 miles to the Sierra Madre Mountains in Central Mexico.
I wonder how many monarchs will be re-fueling at the Blazing Star tomorrow? Maybe none, if the north wind starts blowing. Something to look forward to…