Thursday, October 15, 2015

Snubbed by the Monarchs

 All year long, I readied a buffet of nectar rich flowers for the monarchs to feast upon as they make their journey south to Mexico. 

And what happened? My gayfeather, Liatris, nectar feast was snubbed by the monarchs.

Now the gayfeather flowers are past their peak as the peak monarch migration shifted westward this year.

According to monarch sightings reported to the Journey North website, the majority of the peak sightings were west of the Dallas-Fort Worth area this year. I did notice one report from Plano where someone reported 45 monarchs on their Gregg's mistflower earlier this week. I have yet to see that many monarchs at one time this year, although I have seen a few more this week than in the previous weeks.

I did catch a picture of this monarch on the Mexican milkweed. I knew this was not a good picture as it was snapped, but just as I snapped another...

it was gone. Well, gone from that flower. It was still flying around the garden, but I gave up on trying to get a better picture after a few attempts.

This queen butterfly was a little more cooperative. I have seen more queen butterflies than monarchs this year. Still, I have not seen all that many queens either.

Even though the gayfeather flowers are fading, the grasses, like little bluestem and pine muhly, are hitting their peak. 

It is hard to beat the look of grasses backlit by the sun. This photo was taken in the afternoon.

This is another little bluestem backlit by the morning sun.

The aromatic asters began blooming this week. I have not noticed many pollinators taking advantage of these flowers yet.

A single skeletonleaf goldeneye flower with gayfeather in the background and Gregg's mistflower further in the background.

In the backyard, Gregg's mistflower and autumn sage are blooming around the blue bottle bush. The bottle bush is made from rebar shoved into the clay soil. As predicted, the rebar loosened and shifted once the clay began to dry in the summer. I need to come up with a better way of securing the rebar so the bottles do not clank together.

Just around the corner from the autumn sage in the photo above is a beebrush in full bloom. This fragrant flowers of this plant are a favorite of all kinds of bees. It is another plant that glows when backlit by the sun.

Here is a closer look at some of the flowers. Beebrush blooms about a week after a rain or it can be tricked into blooming with watering from a sprinkler. We had a brief sprinkle of rain last week that set off these flowers. We could still use a good soaker. October is normally our first or second wettest month of the year and that sprinkle last week was all we have had so far. Not to mention the temperature has felt more like summer. It is predicted that we will set a record high at 96 degrees today. 


  1. We managed to see about 50 in one little location a the Lady Bird Wildflower Center two weekends ago. I may have seen one or two in my garden here in Montgomery county, but no others. I do know of someone else just south of me in the Cypress area of Houston who is getting TONS of monarch cats right now.

    Kinda weird.

    1. Misti, I have wondered if the patchy sightings is a sign that their numbers have dropped even more. I have not seen any information to indicate that this is an especially bad year for the monarchs.

  2. We are hogging all the monarchs, queens, painted ladies, and buckeyes over at the Plano Environmental Education Center. Had a terrific butterfly turn-out for a kids' program yesterday.

    1. Well, you could share a few of them Collagemama. Hopefully they are making an impression on the kids.

    2. My worry is the shortage of garden orb spiders this fall. I need spiders this Thursday, and the omens are bad!

    3. Is that the argiope spider? I have not seen any this year. I usually find them face first.

    4. I've been looking in all the usual argiope hangouts. I wonder if the May rains washed them out. True about "face first"!

  3. Here just west and a little south of Austin my attempts to draw in monarchs and/or queens are being snubbed as well. Which is fine really, if the butterflies have lots of good choices then all the better for them. I'll stick with my skippers and lichen moth visitors and call it a year. I might try looking for some liatris seed however... There's always next year!

    1. I guess if the butterflies are getting food somewhere, that is all that matters. I received a request to send some liatris seeds to a university in CA. I can send some to you too, if you are interested. I am not sure how well this variety will do for you. I think it is Liatris mucronata.

    2. That is very generous but on looking up their specifics I realize I only have sunny spots where the deer roam (and eat), and Liatris p. mucronata is something they like to nibble to the ground. I knew there had to be a good reason I was missing out on such a beauty.

  4. I've had the best year ever since I moved to kansas eight years ago. I even had queen butterflys which i have never had. Had quite a number of cats also. They love the honeydew milkweed vines for some reason.


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