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.
Monarch butterfly on Georgia Aster
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.
Deer on the north end of Jekyll
Sulfur and Gulf Fritillary
adult Bald Eagle
juvenile Bald eagle
Gulf Fritillaries on Bottlebrush
Lover’s Oak – Brunswick, GA 
Green Darner dragonfly
Florida Softshell Turtle on Horton Pond
Carolina Chickadee with signs of leucism 
Wood Storks and Roseate Spoonbills near the toll booth
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 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. 
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.
Native Bee on Georgia Aster
The Georgia Aster is suffering in the wild due to its small, isolated populations and having its natural environment disturbed by humans.  Only 146 populations are estimated to remain. 
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.
American Chestnuts getting a head start at the Atlanta History Center
Banded Tussock Moth Caterpillar
Canadian Geese on the South Fork
Great Blue Heron in the Kudzu on the South Fork
Mallards on the South Fork
Red-spotted Purple on apple tree (host plant)
Juvenile male Ruby-throated Hummingbird
Pileated Woodpecker at the Atlanta History Center
Magnificent White Oak in Peachtree Park – 16′-9″ circumference
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:
As 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.
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.
Red Admiral and bee on Tuberosa Milkweed – Asclepias tuberosa