Marilyn writes that this is a very appropriate photo for this time of year, from the slight crispiness of our annual flowers grown from seeds to the fact that a migratory monarch (Marilyn thinks she’s just a little banged up, not one of the older ones that won’t make the trip) is sitting on a big marigold. You might recall that both marigolds and monarchs are very significant in the area of Mexico where the monarchs spend the winter. Here’s a little booklet explaining the connection, written by someone who lives near one of the big monarch reserves: Journey North
However, our monarchs are not quite done yet. Apparently, though Marilyn hadn’t seen any eggs for at least a week (and fewer and fewer before then) and has definitely been seeing the larger butterflies that are designed to make the trip, we do still have some eggs being laid here and there. (Remember, the ones that go to Mexico can’t reproduce until it’s time to start heading north again, sometime in March.) Yesterday, when she was walking her dog, Marilyn saw a monarch flying suspiciously close to some milkweed on her corner. Migrators have no interest in milkweed, but the nonmigratory ones still laying eggs do — and that’s what this one was up to. Marilyn actually said out loud, “Noooooo! What are you doing?!”
It’s not too late, yet, for the eggs to hatch and the caterpillars to develop into butterflies that can make the trip — but it’s getting close. If you see an egg this time of year, you’re supposed to think how things will be about a month from now and figure out if it’s actually kinder for nature to deal with that egg (and most often, this means something else will eat it). No one wants to get stuck with a butterfly that can’t leave because it’s too cold and there are no flowers left. Marilyn is comfortable for this week and possibly next week, too, and then after that, she really hopes to not see any more eggs until next May or June. The past few years, things have wrapped up in early October, and it’s been fine — still enough blooming, and big groups of butterflies passing through so that ours wouldn’t be flying alone. All of that being the case, Marilyn brought in the three eggs she found yesterday and one more today from that same spot. Keep watching the butterfly garden because apparently it’s not going to empty out quite as soon as we thought!