Hello to all my Russian readers! And Germany! And Poland! This morning as I was prepping my blog for this week, I looked at my stats. I had more readers from Russia than the United States. My fascination with one degree of change stems from the simple caterpillar. I have Milkweed, the host plant for the Monarch butterfly, in my entry way garden. Being in Florida, we have year round foliage because of our amazing weather (although it is 41 degrees outside this morning). These three caterpillars made their chrysalises on a finial that I have next to my garden, and that is not the first time either. Two metamorphosed the same day and the third one about four days latter. Just amazing! All those one degrees of change added together to create a beautiful butterfly.
One Degree of Change #35: Plant a Butterfly Garden!
You don’t have to have a green thumb. And since spring time is on the way, this is the perfect time to get your seeds and plant them inside. When the weather is appropriate in your location, plant them outside. Milkweed is very easy to grow. It is a host plant for the monarch butterflies, which means, not only does it feed the growing caterpillar, but is a place for the eggs to be laid. Nature has a pretty good system. Momma Monarch lays the eggs on the bottom side of the leaves to protect them from the elements. When the eggs hatch, they are already on their food source. The caterpillars know exactly how much to eat of the poisonous milkweed (creates a toxin to protect them later from predators) to get to the proper size ( I wish my patients knew that). Then they metamorphose into a beautiful, iridescent, lime-green chrysalis with a bead of gold dots around the rim. The whole process from hatched egg to full butterfly takes 10 to 14 days.
The Monach’s have a migratory process that is fascinating and unique to butterflies. Some migrate from east of Rockies to the same 12 mountain spots every year in the Transvolcanic Range of the Sierra Madre in Central Mexico. Millions hibernate there at an altitude between 8600-10,000 feet in the oyamel fir trees. The others migrate from west of the Rockies to winter in the central coast and southern California eucalyptus trees. Only one generation of the four life cycles makes the migration. It takes 3-4 generations to return north for the summer. Scientists still are baffled at how the butterflies from different generations always return to the same spot. Inherited flight patterns ruled by circadian rhythms, magnetic pull of the earth and the position of the sun in the sky appear to be the probable cause of this miraculous journey. Okay, my European, South American and Australians readers, you can also take part in this. There are migratory patterns in Russia, the Azores, Sweden, Spain and Portugal.
But, here’s the problem. The colonies were depressed by 59% in 2013. Why? In the spring only half return. The loss of migrating butterflies is due to storms, high winds, snow, starvation and bird predation, which is understandable. The biggest cause is from human interference. Yes, all the lovely fungicides, pesticides, and insecticides that are sprayed on our crops and in our own yards. The most well know source is neonicotinoids, which are the most widely used pesticides in the world. They can travel from soil to seed to pollen. Also destroying the milkweed plant itself. Household products like Round up, Ortho Bug B Gone, and Amdro Quick Kill are legally applied in our home gardens, but are deadly to butterflies, as well as bees.
Here are your steps to be part of the solution, instead part of the problem:
- Get rid of the Round-up, find a natural solution for weeds like these on the Treehugger website.
- Order your Milkweed seeds from this link.
- Start your seedlings now to be ready for the spring.
- Do not purchase Milkweed from big box stores, they are treated with chemicals and genetically modified.
- Contact your local agriculture center to find out what plants attract butterflies in your area.
- Make six foot circle on your lawn mixed with dirt and compost to plant your seeds or do a container garden.
- Make sure you have a water source, a small bird bath with a large rock in the middle for the butterflies to land.
- Enjoy! And be proud that you are making a one degree of change to make this world a better place for the Monarch butterflies!
Enjoy this short video of the metamorphosis of the caterpillar to a chrysalis. It happens in a few hours.
Milkweed, the host plant for the Monarch Butterfly!
Be in awe of the world we live in. Be part of the solution. Create a One Degree of Change to benefit the Monarch Butterfly!
Recently hatched Monarch in myown butterfly garden!