Tag Archives: Monarchs

Monthly Journal – October, 2016

October’s journal is in two parts:  photos from the neighborhood, followed by photos of wildlife from Jekyll just after hurricane Matthew.

We’ve been seeing Monarchs in our yard all month.  One stayed and visited flowers for most of one afternoon.  This Monarch was so pristine we speculated that perhaps it had just morphed out.  There were many Monarchs on Jekyll as well, which was most encouraging.

We arrived on Jekyll on October 12, two days after the island was re-opened and five days after hurricane Matthew hit.  While the island sustained a fair amount of damage, things were in better shape than we had feared.  And we were encouraged that wildlife seemed to have made it through.  Also, very glad to see that the magnificent Live Oak in Brunswick known as Lover’s Oak, which is said to be over 900 years old, made it through as well.

References and Additional Information

[1]  Golden Isles, GA: Lover’s Oak
[2]  Wikipedia: Leucism

Two Classics

In our mid-September post we asked Can You Spot the Monarch in the Crowd?   The great news is that a few are being spotted here now!  In our yard we saw two the first of October and two more yesterday.  The photo below shows a monarch on a Georgia Aster, both stunning beauties in need of your help.

Monarch Butterfly

Monarch Butterfly on Georgia Aster

While the egg and caterpillar stages of the monarch are restricted to milkweed (the Monarch’s only host plant), adults require other flowers to feed on.  Some great fall blooming pollinator-friendly plants are Georgia Aster, Goldenrod, Black-eyed Susan, native Sunflower and Pineapple Sage. [4]

Georgia Asters bloom in October and November providing food for pollinators.  They are perennials with woody stems up to 3 feet tall, have thick, dark green leaves and purple flowers  ranging from dark purple to lavender-violet to dark reddish purple.

The Georgia Aster is suffering in the wild due to its small, isolated populations and having its natural environment disturbed by humans. [5]  Only 146 populations are estimated to remain. [7]

References and Additional Information

[1]  The Intown Hawk:  Monarch Butterfly
[2]  Georgia Native Plant Society:  Georgia Aster: 2015 Plant of the Year
[3]  USDA Forest Service:  Conservation Partners Save Georgia Aster from Endangered Status
[4]  Dunwoody Nature Center:  The Milkweed Project – Initiative to Save the Monarch Butterfly
[5]  National Park Service:  Georgia Aster
[6]  Monarch Butterfly Garden:  Butterfly Plants List
[7]  U.S. Fish and Wildlife: Species Assessment and Listing Priority Assignment Form – Georgia Aster

Monthly Journal – September, 2016

We photographed several butterflies this past month and had fun trying to identify them all.  It’s difficult for us to tell the difference between the Cloudless and the Clouded Sulphur butterflies, so we just labeled them Sulphur.  The same is true with the Skipper; there are many of them and while we think this is a Southern Skipper, we’re just not entirely sure.  We were also very excited to see the first Monarch of the season!  Hopefully there will be more.

Can You Spot the Monarch in the Crowd?

News Flash!  Monarch butterflies have started their amazing migration south and they should be coming through Georgia about now. Monarchs have gotten lot of press recently and people everywhere are pitching in to help them out.

Every time we see an orange butterfly, we think (hope actually) that it’s a Monarch.  But we’re often fooled by at least three other orange butterflies that resemble the Monarch: the Viceroy, Gulf Fritillary and Queen.

To help us keep them straight, we put together this  graphic:

compare-orange-4As you can see, the Viceroy looks the most like a Monarch.  The horizontal black stripe near the bottom of the wing (circled in yellow) is the biggest clue that you are looking at a Viceroy, not a Monarch.  This mimicry is by design to enable the Viceroy to fool predators into thinking it is a Monarch which is toxic.

This graphic also appears on our page Orange Butterflies so you can bookmark it for future reference.  Keep your eyes peeled for all of these beautiful butterflies.

Got Milkweed?

Tuberosa Milkweed - Asclepias tuberosa

Tuberosa Milkweed – Asclepias tuberosa

The Milkweed is in bloom!  It’s a beautiful plant with an unfortunate name.  Certainly not a weed by our standards, it’s a wonderful pollinator plant to have in your garden.  As you can see from the pictures below, the pollinators love it.

And it plays a special role for the Monarch butterfly.  If you plant milkweed, you are helping this magnificent creature.  The annual eastern migration of the Monarch is in danger of going extinct, and Milkweed is the only plant on which the caterpillar of the Monarch can feed.  If we are lucky enough to see a monarch, we’ll let you know.