Thursday, August 28, 2008

Monarch Rescue

Monarch Butterfly Caterpillars

Schools open here on Tuesday and fields adjacent to sidewalks and schoolyards are being mowed after a summer of growth. Milkweed is abundant and is one of the most common plants being cut down. This is the exclusive food of Monarch butterfly larvae and late summer is the time of year when many are feeding or pupating.

Monarch Butterfly along Lake Ontario

A fellow Canadian blogger, Ann of Nature Tales and Camera Trails, published a post this week about a newly emerged Monarch. She mentioned before that she has seen few Monarch butterflies this summer in her area of the Maritimes.

Another blogger, Rambling Woods, asked the question, "Where are all the Monarch butterflies this year?"

I saw many Monarchs and caterpillars on Manitoulin Island in early July but had not found any larvae around home until this week.

A couple of days ago I looked on the milkweed plants in our neighbourhood and found four caterpillars. They are now in a large container on the deck with a daily supply of fresh milkweed leaves. Hopefully I will see one or more of them emerge sometime in September. At least I know they will not be victims of the city mowers.


  1. What a good idea. Keep us posted on your guests.

  2. Ruth to the rescue.
    Good for you.

  3. Anonymous8:30 am GMT-4

    Caterpillars are such weird looking creatures, but the beauty lives far within them. Butterflies are on of my favorite flyers.

    I hope that you are successful in "fostering" these little guys. What joy for you!

    I remember milkweed was plentiful when I was kids, but it has been years since I seen a plant. Is this the reason for such few monarchs? Shame!

    Keep us posted!

  4. Those caterpillars are beautiful!

  5. How great that you rescued the caterpillars. Perhaps we should all go looking at areas that may be mowed and bring home some of them ourselves.

  6. Do you know, it is posts like this that make my day......thank you....and well done.......

  7. Ruth, butterfly rescuer! Sounds like a good title to me!

    Grandma Mason always let milkweed grow on her property in Moffat for the butterflies. I wonder if the current owners do, there was a lot of milkweed.

    Kind of related: My grandpa told me once the milkweed was collected during the war to make parachutes.

  8. They are such pretty caterpillars. Yay you for rescuing what you can!

  9. This is a lovely post and beautiful colour in your photos. Thanks for the mention of my Monarch search and results also. Monarchs seem to have become quite a topic recently. Good luck with yours, I'll look forward to hearing of your results. Maybe you'll be able to photograph the step I was missing, that of the butterfly unfolding it wings when the casing of the cocoon cracks open.

  10. Oh wonderful...The monarch migration is underway already. Journey North follows the monarchs and hummingbirds. They ask people to report what they see during the fall and spring migrations.

  11. Anonymous9:46 pm GMT-4

    So glad to know that the family tradition is continuing. We are battling here to save the Monarchs as their territory in Mexico is decreasing with illegal logging operations.
    Our present government is really trying hard to preserve and expand these areas. There is only one type of pine tree where they will rest and conservationalists have just finished planting over 20,00 seedlings in an area adjoining the present reserve.

  12. Ruth,

    I haven't seen many Monarchs this year either. Seems they are scarce. I will take a walk along the canal on the weekend to see if I can spot any larvae. There are lots of milkweed plants growing in that area.

    Please drop by my Writing Nook and enter my Harvest Giveaway.


  13. Gosh, I would not have thought about that - do the mowers know?!

  14. I like the caterpillar photo-I see plenty of the Monarch Butterflies but not the caterpillar

  15. Anonymous7:56 pm GMT-4

    Hey that is some great saving you are doing. You go girl, you rock. If we all save on caterpillar at a time we can do it.

  16. Beth- You can be sure there will be updates!

    KGMom- They are actually quite easy to look after. Only one item on the menu.

    Cheryl- We have many milkweed plants around Mount Trashmore. They are designated a "noxious weed" in agriculture which is unfortunate.

    Ginger- I am not much for creeping things, but I do find these very lovely too.

    NCMW- It never hurts to keep an eye out for vulnerable creatures anywhere.

    Cheryl- thanks!

    Jaspenelle- I wrote a post a while ago about the milkweed being used for insulation during the war. My mother used to collect the pods.

    Jayne- You are a bird rescuer of sorts. It is gratifying to help in little ways.

    Ann- This is the season for Monarch migration and these caterpillars are the last hatch of the season. I am always interested in what others write about them.

    RW- Thanks for the link. My cousin recently observed a tree covered in Monarchs at his home near here.

    Mom- I still want to see the Mexican Monarchs!

    Mary- I have seen Monarchs all summer. I look for milkweed plants with eaten leaves. The larvae are invariably underneath the leaf.

    Jean- I am sure the mowers don't know about the caterpillars. They are just out to do their job. I don't know why things have to be so neat all the time!

    Larry- They tend to stay hidden. I have never seen a chrysalis in the wild.

    Anon- lol...who are you?


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