Geographically speaking I also feel they don't fly through my area until they're migrating south again. I live in Camden County, New Jersey which is on the Delaware River side of the state, but we're somewhat inland. I suspect as they're flying north they're reluctant to cross the river and on the occasion that they do, they're more inclined to visit open fields as opposed to suburban gardens.
As the summer presses on the populations that were established extend outward as patches of milkweed are devoured. Then heading as they all start heading south a wave of Monarchs in the New England area all follow the coast line. Cape May, NJ. is a fantastic spot to see them passing through. A few years back I was there and saw they'd planted a huge stand of Sea Side Goldenrod, Solidago sempervirens, which was in spectacular bloom when I visited but is likely now all died out.
Sea Side Goldenrod is a fantastic plant that can take a beating. It's able to grow in 100% sand at the beach! I don't think it survives the tide coming in but it can take high levels of salt. Thing is, it also grows a lot better in clay soil and garden soil too. And I find it's that way with a lot of plants that are supposedly tough to kill, hardy, drought tolerant.
Joe Pye Weed is another native though certainly not high on the list. At last not in my garden. The plants at the Mt. Cuba Center got more attention than mine but they don't have any Meadow Liatris around.
Actually I worry about the Butterfly Weed I bought from Home Depot. I found eggs on the leaves but not one caterpillar!!! When I bring in sprigs of this plant to feed to caterpillars I have in small plastic cages they refuse to eat it. I don't know if it's just because it's a different kind of milkweed than they're used to eating or because they're spraying them with a systemic pesticide and the caterpillars are somehow picking up on that. Either way I'd love to know just to put my mind at ease, cause it's an awful shame if Home Depot was selling whole racks of tables full of 3 gallon sized pots of beautiful orange Butterfly Weed that was coated in poison.
Wouldn’t think you’d be into this." Which I mistook to mean he thought it was odd a grown man would be into raising butterflies. I replied that I was a native plant gardener so why wouldn't I be into this? And then he made his point clear.
Basically he thought it was unnatural of me to bring the caterpillars inside and nurture them into adulthood. In his view I should have left them outside on the plants to be eaten by birds, ants, and spiders so that nature can take its course. Which I admit he has a point but he also implied that because I had helped a few caterpillars along I was actually doing a disservice to them. Somehow in his view because I had increased the population of the Monarch Butterfly by 5 I had in fact decreased it....
This argument bewildered me as it's the first time I've ever heard it. In fact the internet is filled with hundreds of How To Raise Monarch Butterfly websites. The only thing close to what this person is saying on any of them is to keep an eye out for certain diseases, though all the ones that I know of for Monarch Butterflies either terminate them in development or leave their wings so deformed that euthanizing them is really the only option.
I could make further arguments toward this person as it's sort of similar to the anti-vaccination movement that's bringing back diseases long thought rare and uncommon. Shouldn't we let nature take it's course?
I didn't make this exact argument to the person as it's the kind of thing that would have made me unfriend them. I did put it another way. Basically I asked shouldn't I have not gone out of my way to plant Milkweed in the first place? Shouldn't I have just let whatever weeds decide to show up there grow be thankful nature took its course.
Oddly enough this individual changed his line of thinking when it came to plants. He told me plants are different... and then he said something about meadows and gardens that didn't really make senses. This annoyed me because, plants are not different, they pollinate, and reproduce, and if one were to help the seeds along by putting them in the ground, watering and feeding them, how is that any different from me bringing in some milkweed leaves with eggs on them, putting them in containers and letting the resulting caterpillars develop into adulthood?
Has anyone else come across the Let Nature Be types out there?
UPDATE: Apparently there are people who raise 100+ Monarchs (and likely other butterflies) indoors all year.... I'm not doing that!