Tag Archives: Monarch butterfly

Trying to be crabby.

12 May

I had a single day off work last week. Only one day and I had too much to do. The day started off badly.  I felt cheated. I tried to wallow in my own misery.
But, as the day went on, things began to turn around.
I spotted a little fish in my community aquarium. About the size of a Neon Tetra but there are no fish that small in that tank.  But there it was, a survivor, a baby fish that hatched and grew among 30 hungry adult barbs, tetras and danios.
It’s a baby Colombian Tetra!



I felt better seeing that little fish.
A little later I was driving only a mile from my house and I saw some Milkweed pods rising out of a ditch. Could they still have seeds from last year? I grabbed two pods. They looked empty.


But to my surprise I looked more closely and there were a few seeds in the pod. Ripe and ready to plant. I can expand my Milkweed for the Monarch Butterflies! Yay!!


I was feeling pretty good at this point.
Later, I was mowing the grass and my old Golden Retriever was with me. She used to jump in the back of my vehicle and lay on a blanket and survey the world.
Surely, she’s too old for that but No! She leaped up onto the old blanket and laid there for 2 hours.


My crabbiness was gone. I was tired but content. Seeing a turtle basking in the sunshine can be the highlight of my day. Or watching ducks frolic in a puddle after a rain. Or discovering a new frog at one of my backyard ponds.
I need to get out and hike. I need to make the time.

Can we save the Monarch Butterflies?

10 Oct

Do you care about Monarch butterflies? If you do, find some Milkweed plants and take a ripe seed pod. Keep the pod cool and dry this Winter. Next Spring plant the seeds. Or, wait until Spring and collect some young plants as soon as they pop out of the ground. Transplanting big Milkweed doesn’t work very well, unless you can dig really deep and take a bucket of soil with you.


They are easy to grow. Milk WEED.



I put plants in several places in my perennial garden/ turtle pond.


I saw a Monarch flitting around the Milkweed plants. Later I saw this little white bump on the underside of the leaf. I checked on it often but I never saw it change size or hatch.


But one day, success! A Monarch caterpillar was crawling on this
Butterfly Milkweed, which is growing right next to the Common Milkweed.


In the Fall, the adult Monarchs love these Aster flowers. Also, the Asters are used by the honeybees and bumblebees. They need our help, too.


The bees love this flower, too. It’s called Joe Pye Weed. How come these great plants are called weeds?


One of the Milkweeds was attacked by these little red bugs that look like a mite of some kind. Of course, you can’t spray any chemicals on your Milkweed. Either leave it alone or spray water on it and knock the bugs off. It’s just nature. Some years you have pests, some years you don’t. We hardly had any Japanese Beetles this year.

If you have read this far, you have to see this editorial that was in our local paper. This guy is either misinformed OR he is the funniest dude ever. It’s the article titled “Attempt to help butterflies failed”.


I look forward to having more Milkweed and more Monarchs next year but I’m not terribly optimistic about their future. In the Fall of 2014 I counted as many as 5 or 6 butterflies in the garden. This year, I only saw one Monarch at a time. ONE. That is a frightening thought.

In Iowa, the corporate use of farmland wipes out most of the state as far as potential habitat for butterflies. Does planting a few Milkweed around the house matter? Maybe not. If we don’t try it, we’ll never know. The Monarchs are migrating South now and we’ll soon find out how many make it to their wintering grounds in Mexico.

The previous photos were all mine but I need to add a picture of a Milkweed seed pod. I found a nice one on a site called Amylamb.com. I hope she doesn’t mind that I used her photo.


In keeping with today’s theme of useful weeds, here is a gigantic dandelion that I picked in my neighbors yard. My two land turtles love dandelions.


And you know me, I like to slip in a turtle picture wherever I can because…everyone loves turtles, right? Here’s my female Red-foot Tortoise. She has grown so much. Her shell is 10 inches now.


I can’t stop! I have to show you this tomato that my neighbor planted. It’s called an Indigo Rose. Not a weed. They taste good. They are bigger than a cherry tomato. About the size of a golf ball. The seeds grow back true to the parent plant so we are collecting some seeds and we’ll share the plants next year.


When this picture was taken they weren’t ripe yet. The entire tomato gets purple and then the bottom turns reddish.

OK, that’s enough for now. Take a hike, find a milkweed pod, gather some seeds, you know the rest. Peace out, people!