Monday, September 20, 2010

~ Butterfly Kisses and Wings of Change ~


Heaven's Walk garden has been just filled with monarch butterflies lately.


Drifting

floating

soaring over my head

as I stand mesmorized by their beauty.

The butterfly bushes are heavy with fragrant white blooms, and the butterflies land with airless effort to take in the sweet nectar before they begin their long trip south.

 The monarch goes through a complete metamorphosis from egg, caterpillar, pupa, and adult. Did you know that when they migrate (which in SE lower Michigan is from September 6-19) they must navigate to a place they've never been to before, because they are three or more generations removed from the monarchs that overwintered in Mexico during the previous winter?

Amazing.

Monarch caterpillar

Traveling in a southwest  direction, flying roughly 50 miles per day at 12mph and fluttering their wings at 300-720 times per minute, they encounter storms, predators, human's cars, and simple fatigue.  Those that make it follow the gulf of Mexico in a continuous stream toward their final destination in the Oyamel forests in Central Mexico.  
As many as 300 million spend their winters there.
It must truly be a sight to behold...


It amazes me that these delicate creatures of beauty, who weigh only about a half a gram,
fight their way over 3100 miles to their overwintering home in the high-altitude fir forests of the Transvolcanic Range of Mexico.


They roost in clusters on the oyamel trees, which unfortunately, are valuable lumber sources which provide local people sources of income.  Even here in the states, milkweed, the monarchs' host plant, is a concern. Farmers consider it a nuisance to crops and often use herbicides to control it. More roadsides are being planted with grass instead of being allowed to overgrow with wildflowers and weeds.  In Canada, it's been declared a noxious weed. As a result, the butterflies have fewer places in the wild to find nectar and lay eggs. It's been reported that this year's migration is 100 million less than last year.

Heartbreaking....

So, it's up to us to come to the aid of God's wings of beauty.
We can do that by stopping the destruction of their precious habitat. 

Plant some milkweed! 

Canada has already taken steps to protect the summer homes of monarchs.  Hundreds of thousands of them spend their summers along the shores of Lake Ontario and Lake Erie in southern Quebec.  Three sites along these lakes have been designated as butterfly reserves.  

Planting milkweed is very easy, and there are many groups and websites out there willing to send them to you for free or a very small donation, or check with your local nursery. It takes a minimum of 60 days from seed to a plant large enough to support caterpillars' food needs.

 If you live in a northern climate and see snow, then request the 'Speciosia' variety of milkweed seed, as it survives the winters cold. You can save your seeds till next year and start them early inside, then transplant outside when the weather warms up. Your goal should be to create a refuge of lush milkweed for the migrating Monarch. Once you have a good supply of milkweed, you can also purchase eggs, small caterpillars or chrysalis and ensure there are butterflies in your area immediately. Just one mating couple and a good supply of milkweed could produce many healthy fluttering friends for your community. Check with your local plant nurseries if you have questions about when to plant seeds or when to buy plants or transplant.


Funniest thing....I never meant for this post to be an ad for "Save the Monarchs".  But the more time I spent out in the garden with them this week, I realized how happy and calm my spirit was when I was surrounded by them.  I wanted them to get to know me, to feel safe and secure in my yard.
I wanted them to know that Heaven's Walk acreage was a safe haven for them.

I knew that I wanted to do something to ensure they would bless my garden again next year.

And I wanted more butterfly kisses...
So....I'm planting milkweed.

And lots of it.


Will you help by planting some, too?

It's the least we can do for these little miracles that bless us in the garden....

{ Hugs and butterfly kisses }

~ laurie
for some interesting facts on monarchs -
and "Live Monarch" tells you how to grow milkweed!) 



24 comments:

  1. Dear Laurie: I absolutely love your post! I've followed the plight of the butterfly and their declining numbers and as a gardener and one aware of my environment - it is very alarming. Thank you for providing such wonderful information and facts and the beautiful photos to support your concerns. They are precious and beautiful creatures.
    Lisa@SuburbanRetreat

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  2. Beautiful pictures! The monarch cycle fascinates me. I LOVE your new header!

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  3. What a great post. I had no idea the butterflies were declining in numbers. I have quite a few of them that hang out on my Autumn Joy Sedums. Their flowers sort of look like the milkweed flowers, maybe that's why.

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  4. Great post sis! Bless you for helping with the care of these delicate and precious butterflies.
    Awesome photos!
    Debbie@houseatthelake

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  5. I had no idea!! I love the Monarchs and have been surrounded by them too! My butterfly bush has really taken off this year and I have had so many butterflies, they are so beautiful! I will have to look into the milkweed as well! Thank you for the info!

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  6. Fascinating post. I'll never look at these little creatures the same!

    xoxo
    Jane

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  7. I grow milk weed! I didn't know I was helping the butterflies by doing it, just missed it from childhood.
    The birds plant it in my flower beds and I let it come up!
    Great post!
    Hugs- Tete

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  8. Awesome post, Laurie. Lots of good info and stunning photography. Great job! Susan

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  9. Oh wow!! Aren't they some of the most amazing creatures! I just love this post! Hope you're having a beautiful day sweets!
    Hugs,
    ~Terrell @ FrouFrou Decor~

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  10. Hi Laurie ~ my daughter did a project on these amazing beauties years ago and I loved learning all about them! Beautiful post!!

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  11. Awww, the butterflies are soooo pretty! Thanks so much for visiting me & the sweet comments! Love CSN!!!

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  12. Great post and beautiful pictures:))
    Thanks for stopping by.
    Greetings from Europe, Biljana

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  13. We used to see more butterflies in our backyard. But this year, we saw a few and I believe they were my brother's way of saying hi to us.

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  14. It is such a thrill to me when they flutter around my garden too. I will have to put some milk weed in next spring. They are a wonderful treat and we need to help their little spirits make their journey. I enjoyed your post.

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  15. This year we too have had an amazing amount of butterflies...it may be that we last fall we planted a field of wildflowers...and this year the field exploded in color.

    Oh...and about Picnik, I do pay the extra $24...but that's for the whole year.

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  16. Well, you are truly a teacher at heart (even if you weren't a teacher at school)-lol I found out more about Monarchs today than I ever knew.

    I know we had a lot of Milkweed in PA and you are right- it is a nuisance plant to farmers. The cows won't eat it and it gets in the meadows and takes over. However, now that I am thinking about it-I don't remember ever seeing it here at all. Guess I will be planting some stinking milkweed...and my father will be rolling in his grave to think a farmer's daughter actually PLANTED it. Geezzzz...what I'll do for a friend- you owe me! xxoo lol Diana

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  17. Aren't they beautiful?
    Your images are sooooo lovely.

    And how fun to learn more about them, too!

    Have a wonderful week!
    Hugs,
    Anne

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  18. This was not just lovely photos but fascinating. I knew Monarchs traveled far but never thought of it in miles per day or totals.
    300 million to see at once must be breathtaking and overwhelming.

    Come to think of it I only saw one Monarch this year. We have a butterfly bush but it looks like I need to get some milkweed!

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  19. Hi Laurie~

    Your gardens are gorgeous and the butterflies....an extra treat! Beautiful photos. :)

    Thanks so much for your visit and kind words on my famly room re-do.

    Jessica

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  20. Hi there Laurie! Thanks for the warm welcome back my friend! I love butterflies, too. We get lots of them in our garden. They truly are one of the treats from gardening. I enjoyed reading all the interesting facts about them. I think it's great that you're trying to help them, but I'm not surprised, because you're a sweetheart! :)
    Have a great week my friend!
    Hugs ~ Jo

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  21. Hi Laurie, I didn't know the butterfly's were declining! Wow... what a GREAT post! They are so beautiful... amazing how far they fly!

    xoxo Heather

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  22. This is just lovely my friend. I'm going to look into planing Milkweed here in Oklahoma. I've never heard of it before.

    Now...thanks for visiting me yesterday and for the comment about the Teacher who has been found. We heard from her and we ARE going to get together. It's sooo exciting~

    Love to you~

    Rebecca

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  23. wonderful post and photo's! We have been trying to save so many wonderful flowers at our "new" house. There is a beautiful butterfly bush, your post has made it even more important for us to try to save it! Thank you for all this great information :)
    Wendy

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  24. I adore butterflies. This has been so fascinating to read and the pictures are wonderful. Thank you for this wonderful education.
    I have become a follower of your lovely blog. My little rosebud icon has disappeared so I'm following in the generic silhouette.

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Thank you so much for visiting! I read each of your comments and treasure them all. So, please make sure your settings will accept emails, or leave your email address so that I can reply! ♥ Laurie