Saturday, February 25, 2012


Here's my version of a  Monarch Way Station here along the Texas coast.
Monarch butterflies are just like us. They need food, a place to rest, and a place for their young.
Twigs and leaves next to the host plants provide a place to rest and recover from long flights.
Isn't this one beautiful?

This one had an antenna missing and was so tired I could pick it up.

I found two today and both were resting.

Even with bright coloration they blend in.

The menu for mom and dad monarchs include purple lantana.
Black-foot daisies are just starting to open, so that will also be on the menu soon.
In general, these plants have been good nectar sources here:
Rudbeckia (sunflower family)
Mist Flower (small, lavender)
& Zinnias
Monarch caterpillars have a one track mind and it's all about milkweeds. There are many types of milkweed to choose from. I've read that there are 140 species native to North America. I had A. curassavica this year and it bloomed all winter.
I was fortunate to have two monarch way stations; one at my home and one up at our church. Since these plants were stripped and my other garden had plenty of leaves, I transported the lively group over to my house.
If you look closely, you'll see one caterpillar next to the last leaves(right side of picture).
Plant at least a dozen butterflyweeds to ensure that there's enough food. The plants easily regrow their leaves and seem adapted to this routine.

Here they come!


After the caterpillars are finished with their one course buffet, they'll need a place to hide. And HIDE they will.
My favorite story is about a farmer that could not find a single chrysalis on any bush or plant. One day he had to climb under his tractor for repairs. When he looked up, lo and behold, there were dozens of them latched to the metal fenders!
Let's see if we can find some.

There's one on this agave.

And there's one hidden on this agave as well. I found a third one, then lost it again. Oh well!

Do not touch a caterpillar in this 'J' position. It's not sick. It's getting ready to turn into this:

A Monarch chrysalis from my garden. The stripe and the dots look like liquid gold.

If you type free butterfly font, you'll find this nifty font to download.
Or you can click here and scroll down to the third font.

Hope you feel inspired to try a Monarch Way Station this year.
You can make your own Monarchville. It's easy and fun!

Thanks for stopping by!




  1. David I saw monarchs in New Zealand a few years back. They are the most stunning and elegant of butterflies with an interesting migration. So I am inspired but it just might be a tad cold for them here!

  2. I am trying, this year, to make our garden butterfly-bees friendly. I have been doing that since we got this house two years back but this year I am trying to plant all sorts of flower-food for them - hyssop, cosmos, dahlia, lupine, coneflower, etc, etc....I am not sure if monarch will come here because I don't know if this part are visited by monarchs. However, every year my parsleys are devoured by swallowtails caterpillars. I have to tell you that I never found their chrysallis.

  3. I can't wait. Had one worn male last year. The milkweed wasn't ready as we had an early migration in cool weather. Thanks for the post!

  4. I especially enjoyed looking for the chrysalis. I have no milkweed in my garden - but I am going to remedy that! I'll be sure to put the milkweed out where they can chow down and the look of the stripped plants won't bother me.

  5. I've always had plenty of Monarchs visit my garden, but I can't say I've ever found a chrysalis. They are pretty good at hiding, I guess. Maybe I need to look under my truck! Ha! What a treat to find more than one! Great pictures!

  6. David, thanks for sharing this, most entertaining to read! It's interesting to see how you yelp the Monarchs on their journey, such lovely creatures!

  7. You are so fortunate to be along their journey. Many make it all the way up here, but for such a short time in summer. Very pretty captures of them, and like you said, the first one is a real looker. Even the caterpillars are pretty to look at, and it makes perfect sense the milkweed would evolve to sustain all that damage.

  8. Excellent information I can certainly use here. I planted mistflower last fall after seeing it full of Monarchs at a garden center.

    I'm working on some new beds and your ideas will be incorporated.

  9. love your idea for a monarch way station. I've seen quite a few munching away on my milkweed which fortunately survived the winter. They're happy...and I'm happy to have them in my garden.

  10. How great to have so many Monarchs! They must be tired after flying so far.

    I planted milkweed last year, but sadly the aphids got to it before any monarchs did. I think I planted them too late in the season. The monarchs did like the butterfly bushes though! I'm going to try again with the milkweed this year!

  11. Our monarch-like butterflies are a little different than these, the species are different. But i haven't found their pupa yet, because maybe we don't have much of the caterpillars too. I just see them when they are already adults.

  12. Hi David, thanks for being so witty on my blog and for saying I'm "cool." After marvelling at your pictures I'd have to say you're pretty "fly" yourself :)

  13. This is a great idea. Love monarchs. Hope you have many butterflies in your garden this spring. I'm already starting to see the skippers flying around....exciting times:)

  14. I really don't know much about Monarchs although I think they're pretty and notice them occasionally, so it was nice to see the caterpillars and cocoons! They're pretty in stages!!


I always appreciate your comments & questions! Happy Gardening from David/ Tropical Texana

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