Saturday, March 26, 2011

Monarch Caterpillar Eggs on the Prairie

While the identity of my mystery plant is still in question, a haggard monarch butterfly, who requested her photo not be published, flew around the prairie depositing eggs on the milkweed plants.

The plant pictured above is another volunteer that I suspected was a milkweed. The monarch must agree with my assessment since she laid a few eggs on the leaves.

I first noticed this plant about four years ago. It was in a location that did not get sun until afternoon. Lack of morning sun is probably the reason it never bloomed. Last week, I decided to move the plant to a sunny location to give it a better chance. Milkweeds have a deep taproot and I got about 10 inches of this plant’s root. I must have got enough of the root because the stems and leaves have grown since the plant was moved. I will just have to wait until it blooms to know what kind of milkweed this is.

The monarch also laid eggs on this green milkweed, Asclepias viridis. I transplanted several of these green milkweed plants from the backyard prairie to the front yard prairie a few weeks ago so all of them would not be concentrated in one area of my property.

The monarch did not lay any eggs on the milkweed or the mystery plants in the backyard prairie. Maybe she or another monarch will lay eggs in the backyard and help to identify the mystery plant. 

I am looking forward to watching these guys grow since I do not usually get monarch caterpillars in my garden. I hope the milkweed's growth stays ahead of the caterpillars'.


  1. Very cool! I wonder if I can talk you out of a couple of those green milkweeds? I have some heartleaf skullcap I can trade, eh? Eh? I never got around to planting the milkweed seed you gave me, but maybe late is better than never.

  2. Way cool! Looks like you'll have your own monarch culture.

    When I lived in south Florida, I had year-round monarchs, a self-perpetuating community. And my tropical milkweed was so prolific I gave plants up & down the street until we had a monarch corridor. The plants made it through 3 hurricanes in 16 months, and the monarchs too.

  3. Sorry Curtis. I do not have any spare milkweed plants, unless you want some of my mystery plant. I planted seeds at this time last year and a few grew. Give it a shot. I did pot some some prairie verbena for you if you are still interested.

    Kathleen, sounds like the monarchs had a great thing going when you lived in Florida.

  4. Oh, that's OK. I would still like some prairie verbena. My offer for the heartleaf skullcap stands. Not sure if you have it, but it's a native and it grows vigorously, and in shade, which I love. I have a beautiful semi-circle of about three dozen plants growing under my front oak tree from three transplants.


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