We Have Babies!

Last week when I spotted a female Monarch (Danaus plexippus) on my coneflower (Echinacea purpurea), my hopes soared that this year we might host a new generation of this imperiled species in our backyard.

Today, I spotted a male and my hopes grew. I wandered over to my milkweed patch (Asclepias syriaca) to check and I found 5 instars. What a thrill! Who would have thought that seeing a caterpillar munching my plants would make me so happy?

While there are several factors leading to the decline of this unique migratory insect, including widespread use of herbicides killing off milkweed host plants, habitat loss and climate change affecting their winter home in Mexico,  some scientists believe the major cause lies in the use of neonicotinoids, a systemic pesticide used in commercial agriculture and the nursery trade, which is killing pollinators that visit the flowers of contaminated plants.

It is important for us to put pressure on growers, retailers and politicians to ban the use of systemics in flowering plants, as well as urging the practice of organic methods in home gardens. We must be good stewards if we want a world that works for every species, not just humans.

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About Eliza Waters

Gardener, writer, photographer, naturalist
This entry was posted in Country Gardening, Field Notes, My Photos and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

93 Responses to We Have Babies!

  1. Alice Pratt says:

    Oh, Eliza, I totally share your joy in finding Monarch babies! How very exciting….let them much away, to their belly’s content! Yesterday (the day after I sent you my Female Monarch photo) my daughter took a photo of a female Monarch (on a plant I gave her…they live 3.3 miles from me…I didn’t see “my Monarch” again!) It’s so amazing for nature lovers to share such joys!

  2. Alice Pratt says:

    🙈munch🙈

  3. Beautiful discovery! Love nature 🍃🍀💚

  4. Widdershins says:

    Congratulations. 😀

  5. So cool!!! We used to have so many here but the numbers have been dwindling and dwindling. Thank you for sharing this. I’m so glad to see that they are still alive somewhere. 🙂 ❤

  6. MK says:

    Congratulations! Birth announcement has gone out, now enjoy your new darlings!
    And thank you for the gentle reminder that humans are just one of many of Earth’s babies.

  7. bittster says:

    Good for you, how exciting! I also spotted a butterfly a few days ago and lo and behold this morning found some eggs. Tomorrow I’ll collect them and start the little guys out in a safe container, it’s been several years since I was able to do this!

    • Eliza Waters says:

      Great news – I hope they grow well for you. I was wondering if I should do the same, but I’m away this coming week. Maybe when I get back?

      • bittster says:

        Yes, I’m away next week as well, but I just happen to have a few potted milkweeds which may tide them over in the garage while I’m away… then a few days home but then we’re going away again, so maybe they’ll be big enough then to fend for themselves at that point.

  8. Jim R says:

    Isn’t it a thrill to find them. Watch them get fat. I’m still looking for a chrysalis on mine. I can’t find any.

  9. Kris P says:

    That’s great, Eliza! Congratulations!

  10. Anne says:

    “We must be good stewards if we want a world that works for every species, not just humans.” This is SO true, Eliza. This is truly a significant birth announcement.

  11. Great message. Totally agree!

  12. jenanita01 says:

    Wonderful news, Eliza… the Monarch is one of my favourites!

  13. Rebecca says:

    This:
    ‘We must be good stewards if we want a world that works for every species, not just humans.’
    All I can say is: yes, yes, yes. You are so very right, Eliza. Thank you for continuing to blog about these issues.They’re so important …

  14. Chloris says:

    How exciting, I wish we had these beautiful butterflies here. Well done, we all have to keep plugging the message about neoncotinoids.

  15. A couple of years ago school kids brought about a dozen caterpillars to raise and release, last year none. I’ve only seen 2 monarchs so far this summer. Release days are the best, hope their are many more.

  16. Mike Bizeau says:

    Congratulations, we have been looking diligently in the fields of milkweed we hike through on a regular basis and have yet to see a caterpillar this year. In the past we have seen many. So yes, it is vital we put pressure on growers and gardeners alike to use methods of production which benefit all species which call this planet home.

  17. Welcome to the munchers and their offspring. Gorgeous last photo. I haven’t seen one this year so thank you for sharing.

    • Eliza Waters says:

      I saw two more today in another part of town with one tiny caterpillar (I was working so didn’t have time to inspect all the milkweed). So I feel quite heartened!

  18. Sound philosophy, too, Eliza

  19. Yes! I have seen Monarchs here recently and many Florida gardeners are actively watching over the caterpillars. I have a couple of different kinds of butterflies in my garden and it is weird to be happy about your plants being eaten!

  20. Brenda says:

    What a treat. I’ve seen one monarch this year, so far, and will start checking for eggs.

  21. Samuel says:

    Wow, awesome! I’m looking forward to seeing the pictures of the newborns :p

  22. Great news on the babies!

  23. Cathy says:

    Well said, Eliza. And what good news about your babies! 🙂

  24. Pete Hillman says:

    How wonderful, Eliza! I hope all goes well!

  25. I was so excited when I saw this title- wondering exactly what “babies” would be shown. Thank you, Eliza:0

  26. liv blumer says:

    Right you are. I’m seeing Monarchs all over the garden this year. Could it have anything to do with my now prolific asclepias collection?

  27. mary says:

    How very exciting! I have been saddened in that I have only seen one Monarch this year – and it was in flight. But I refuse to give up! Thanks for making us all aunts and uncles. 🙂

  28. Val Boyko says:

    Terrific news Eliza! Thanks for the smile and some hope for the future generations ❣️

  29. Robin says:

    Seeing these pictures and hearing this news put such a big smile on my face. How exciting to see a new generation of Monarchs! Congratulations! 😀

  30. Cath says:

    Congrats! I feel the same, after years of bringing plants and caterpillars from over-crowded plants in town. And seeing the butterflies floating around feeding from my flowers is like being blessed.

  31. neihtn2012 says:

    Excellent news, Eliza! Today I saw one Monarch visiting our milkweed flowers, but did not have time to run our and take its picture. Maybe tomorrow or any day in this coming week. I will also watch for caterpillars.

  32. Kathy Sturr says:

    Yay! Congratulations!!!

  33. Laurie Graves says:

    Yay is right!!!! I have gotten to the point when I am actually thrilled to see milkweed growing in profusion by the side of the road.

  34. Yay! This is exciting news – I am happy to see lots of milkweed around us for these guys!

  35. Christy B says:

    Woohoo, wonderful to see those babies! I’m smiling now 🙂

  36. Congratulations! Great news, message and images!!!

  37. Peter/Outlaw says:

    Congratulations on your babies! What a proud mama you must be!

  38. ladyfi says:

    Ooo – how lovely!

  39. naturebackin says:

    Great message and something to celebrate. I love sharing our garden with a profusion of life, and don’t mind munched leaves at all – as far as I am concerned that, in part, is what they are for!

  40. bittster says:

    Cute little guys, I bet they’ve grown a bunch since these photos were taken!
    I have six I’m nursing along and they’re going outside again this weekend to find their own spots to pupate. My little babies raised from eggs, I hope they’ll be ok!

    • Eliza Waters says:

      Of the two I brought inside, one died inexplicably, and the other is now pupating. Of the five that were outside, I can find only two. There is another set of instars and the other day I found more eggs. Three generations! So pleased. I plan on posting an update soon.

  41. Resa says:

    Fantastic! YAY!! My hubby & I planted a milkweed last summer. We have many milkweed babies, and have seen a few Monarchs. Yet, we have no Monarch babies.
    We live on a migratory path that has gone from sun blocking clouds of Monarchs, to a few. So sad.

    • Eliza Waters says:

      Sad, indeed. I’m hoping we can turn this trend around. Living in the north, we only see migrants in ones and twos. I can’t imagine seeing thousands – what a sight that must be!

      • Resa says:

        Yes, it is breathtaking! Yet, after seeing the Monarch clouds, and now seeing none … breathtaking has a new meaning.

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