At last! Hopeful signs on the milkweed!
I spotted a monarch butterfly flying over the patio sometime in June, and hoped it was a female that was ready to lay her eggs on our lush potted milkweed plants.
She may have returned to our milkweed pots shortly after, because early July, instead of caterpillars I discovered three tiny eggs on narrow-leafed milkweed plants in one of the pots.
In previous years we discovered monarch caterpillars already in first instar on our milkweed plants during the first week of July. So this year the monarchs in our area may be reproducing later in the season.
The eggs here probably measure less than 1/16th of an inch.
Last year and the previous year the monarch females visited the milkweed plants so often to lay their eggs, that we had to keep purchasing more and more milkweed plants from responsible plant nurseries, making sure that the milkweed had not been treated with any kind of pesticide or herbicide (which wouldn't make sense, would it, since people grow milkweed to attract monarch butterflies?).
We had to be sure all those caterpillars had enough milkweed leaves to eat.
With the sharp decline in the monarch population last year, I am just so relieved that at least a few eggs have been laid on our plants. But I really hope that there are more eggs on the plants that I just overlooked.
I tend to check every morning and evening, but not with a magnifying glass.
Then I'm always surprised by the number of caterpillars crawling and munching on the leaves.
We certainly have a mini jungle of native milkweed growing in fourteen large flower pots, all grouped together. The habitat and food is there.
Just keeping fingers crossed and hoping to help the population.