I created a video documenting the metamorphosis of Andy.
I visited a great park along the Truckee River. I walked a few miles of paths. There are both bike paths and nature trails. The nature trail is very rustic. At one point I had to dart away from a snake in the grass.
Monarchs have been rare in Nevada this year. Just as they have been rare the last decade. But this year is different. This year I have taken action to promote monarch habitat by growing milkweed. In addition I am taking notice of habitat loss. Furthermore I am counteracting habitat loss by planning Fall planting in addition to growing my own butterfly garden. Today my wife said she saw a monarch fly thru our yard yesterday. I know I can make a difference.
The photo above shows a monarch egg that I found on a milkweed leaf in August 2014. From the egg I can see that monarchs are trying to survive. But thru have it hard in the wild. Rarely do more then 5-10% of eggs become butterflies. Often they get devoured as tiny caterpillars. Sad as it may be, it's true.
It's not to difficult to locate the monarch butterflies. For me, I just head to the area that has the highest density of milkweed. Either East or West of Reno I can find sprawling milkweed patches and monarch. The monarchs are not abundant like I would prefer. There are often only one to five that I can identify on any given day. The photo above is the second monarch I saw on August 8th 2014 by Mayberry Park.
On this walk I was poking around every milkweed plant I saw. I was looking to see the progress of the seed pods. I was also inspecting leaves for monarch eggs. Not getting any results for quite a while and nearly running out of fresh water. I was about to call it quits.
I'm glad I persisted. Because seemingly out of nowhere I saw the beautiful monarch caterpillar eating away under a leaf. Careful not to disrupt its appitite I was able to capture the photo above and even a short video that I shared on twitter. See my twitter profile @growmilkweed
It really made my day great seeing that a tiny monarch egg can become a healthy hungry caterpillar. I hope you enjoyed my experience. I look forward to sharing encounters like this with many people as I dpread the word about milkweed and it's popularity among the monarch population.
Outdoor Hands-On Search for Native Milkweed Species Growing in my Community.I went to my local garden center seeking milkweed seed's or plants today. They had no milkweed for sale but they did know a local trail that is know for having milkweed. They called it the ditch trail and said it is near Patagonia.
My excitement level went thru the roof to hear Patagonia was closer than I expected. Unfortunately it is a Patagonia Outlet Store they were directing me to and not a diverse secluded region in Southern South America.
The ditch trail sounds like the exact place that I would expect to hear about native milkweed growing naturally. So I am packing up for my 9-5 job (actually 3:30-00:00) a bit early to set out in hopes of discovering local milkweed plants growing in my community.
Success on my first walk today. I found part of what I was expecting!I parked at Mayberry Park and walked directly to the Truckee Rivers edge. Once I began to look at all the plants growing there I became a bit overwhelmed with the diversity of plants. There are so many plants growing by the river.
Showy Milkweed and Mexican Whorled Milkweed is what I was expecting to find. And Showy Milkweed is what I found! Confused by Dogbane.The first Milkweed plants I found were so abundant that I was in slight disbelief that they were there. It was Dogbane and not Milkweed! It was growing in Droves. I saw two butterflies fluttering thru their vertical stalks. I thought 'they must be milkweed'. It was milkweed paradise. Or was I just confused by a milkweed look-a-like? I collected a few dried seed pods and went about on my way down the path looking for more.
With much luck I stumbled right across milkweed a short distance away. Growing in a slightly different area of loose grass I found another type of milkweed. The Showy Milkweed was in thick clumps a few yards from the rivers edge. In full sun I could there was very young Showy Milkweed growing in between the older, more established plants. It seemed to be very healthy. A few beetles were devouring one of its leaves.
Don't try this at home.Having not seen any milkweed recently I was not positive it was milkweed. I had read that the sap is milky white and has a bitter taste along with mild toxicity. So I had to check for these traits.
I took a small bite.From a small leaf tip I could see the milky white sap oozing out. I nibbled on it like a lettuce leaf. The bitterness was very mild. The leaves are very fluffy and light. I couldn't wait to get back to my car where I had fresh water. I discourage eating milkweed. Leave that for the butterflies!
The first groves that I thought were milkweed turned out to be Dogbane or Hemp Dogbane. It had many similarities to milkweed. First there were the milky white sap when I tore off a leaf. There were the butterflies that I saw. But it didn't all add up to milkweed. The seeds I collected were thin and rounded. Milkweed is known for having pancaked tear shaped seeds.
Make milkweed your friend. Your friends will love your milkweed. My name is Brad. Learn more about me now.
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December 2017 Holiday
June 2015 Monarchs Everywhere
February 2015 Podcast launch
January 2015 Monarch Count
January 2015 Winter 2014
November 2014 - Welcome
October 2014 - Migration