Friday, October 4, 2013
Milkweed Beetles Stepping Up
The first native plant I decided to buy was actually Swamp Milkweed, Asclepias incarnata. I bought them originally because I wanted an environmentally friendly nectar source for my honeybees. I didn't know squat about plants at the time and bought them from Forest Farm Nursery, which I've found to be rather expensive but they have a great selection if you need something. They were planted just after July I think, which is past their usual time for flowering, especially for transplants that had been shipped from California (Oregon?). While I was bummed that I wouldn't see any bees on them, I eventually found out they were the host plant to the Monarch Butterfly. I remember thinking "Oh that's neat." So I go outside to look at them and wouldn't you know it, there's a female Monarch out there fluttering around and dotting the underside of leaves with her eggs, like right then and there! About a month or so later I found a chrysalis right on the plant, which is unusual because they normally abandon the host plant in the last instar. Yet more unusual was the fact that I then watched that same chrysalis hatch ten days later. Truly, I've never had the stars align so perfectly before in my life. I was brought to tears watching this first butterfly hatch (which is a little odd for a male in his 20's). This moment really stuck with me, watching it unfold its wings and attempt to fly with a passing breeze, and then finally fluttering off never to be seen by me again.
I've tried to create this moment by sharing it with friends whenever I can but for whatever reason they're not taken by it the way I was. It's always "Oh that's neat," and they think nothing of it. Meanwhile I've spiraling into a plant buying obsession over the years and regularly spend $500 a year on plants. This year's bill was more than $800!
Swamp Milkweed Beetles are really starting to become common in my yard.
While I can't do much about illegal logging in Mexico, or Herbicide use in Texas, hopefully I'll get to seem Monarchs in my garden again someday.