Monarchs are not on My Milkweed, Why?
Monarchs need time to reproduce
Monarch eggs in Twin Falls, Idaho
The Viceroy butterfly (Limenitis archippus) has the orange and black color that resembles a monarch butterfly but has a distinct black line which does not appear on a monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus).
The adult Viceroy will nectar on milkweed and other pollinating flowers but their host plant is not milkweed. A Viceroy caterpillar will eat willow and cottonwood's rather than milkweed.
Although I had not seen a monarch in flight I chose to search for signs that there were monarchs visiting the many milkweed plants in the park.
By looking under the leaves of the showy milkweed plants I was able to observe eight monarch eggs. By finding eight eggs I was able to confirm, without a doubt, monarchs are flying around in Twin Falls Idaho.
Roadside mowing is a real threat to milkweed. In this photo the milkweed was just out of reach of the mowers blades. If you look closely at the leaves you will see that some of the nearby plants are piercing these showy milkweed leaves.
Pesticide and herbicide use is another threat to milkweed. Fortunately, the plants in this park don't appear to getting sprayed by pesticides or herbicides. Thistles did get hit by roundup or other similar product. Luckily for the milkweed community they were spared the spray this week.
Raising monarchs at home
From One to Twenty-Five in only One Year
As a monarch enthusiast I am seeking to spur a monarch butterfly population explosion. With the population at record lows we are faced with a tipping point. On one end is extinction and on the other end is survival of the species. I set a personal goal to raise 2,500% more monarchs in 2015 than I did in 2014.
Time is the biggest factor that is working against me. September is when all monarchs depart Reno, NV. To my advantage, I have more milkweed now than I had last year. I am also getting an earlier start on the season by nearly two months. As I am writing this there is one caterpillar eating tropical milkweed in my new rearing cage.