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Monarch Madness

This week we have released nine monarch butterflies, so far.

On Monday we released a male.

He was a little hesitant at first to leave the hamper.

We had placed the hamper with the lid open near some butterfly nectar plants.

When the butterfly showed no interest in leaving the hamper, I went back to the patio to sit on a chair with the hamper in front of me to wait until he was ready.

After a while I put my finger in front of the butterfly.

He walked onto my finger, sat there for a minute, then suddenly took off, flying high up to the redwood tree.

Meanwhile, mama monarch was back, circling around us, and landing on the "Wild Cotton" milkweed Asclepias cancellata plant. We have had the plant for many years, but it hasn't looked particularly attractive, and when we tried to feed the leaves to our current monarch caterpillar brood, they took a few nibbles and then didn't touch the leaves again.

I was planning to pull that milkweed out and toss it and plant more narrow leaf milkweed in there for next year.

But mama monarch is determined, and laid many eggs on the "Wild Cotton".

We're out of milkweed otherwise, so we'll leave this plant alone for now, and hopefully the little ones can survive on it.

Early Tuesday morning a female monarch emerged, as well as two males in another hamper.

This female was the most determined and energetic monarch I've seen yet.

She was flexing her wings a lot, walking under the hamper lid.

Then she walked around the inside walls of the hamper.

Suddenly she flew to the bottom of the hamper and sat next to another chrysalis that is hanging from a large milkweed leaf. I assume she just was curious. Then she walked back up to the ceiling of the hamper.

When Tony released her late that morning, he said she immediately flew out of the hamper, high up to the redwood tree. Another monarch was flitting around there, maybe one of the releases from a previous day. They both flew west.

The other two monarchs released on Tuesday were male. They were not quite as determined as the female, but were ready to fly in the warm temperatures.

Yesterday, Wednesday, two more monarchs emerged early in the morning and were released in the early afternoon.

One was male, and the other female.

This morning around 7 am, I saw that a female monarch had emerged. A little while later a male emerged in another hamper. I watched it as it wove together its proboscis. About an hour later a third monarch, another female, emerged.

Tony released them this afternoon, around 1 pm.

He said the male butterfly was a little smaller in size than the two females.

One butterfly flew straight to the redwood tree, another one flew to the lemon tree, and the third flew to rest on a vine of the blackberry bush.

So far we released twelve monarchs.

Six monarchs are female, and six are male.

We now have three chrysalides to go.

Keeping fingers crossed that all goes well with them.

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