They're on their way! Whoot, whoot! Monarchs were passing through Mission Texas a few days ago on their way out of Mexico!
I've been watching the winter roosting, the "stirring", and now the beginning of the Monarch migration back to Prairie Hill Farm and beyond, on the "Journey North" site at Learner.org for most of the winter. I'm always interested in what my friends are up to when they're away from home...well, their summer home anyway, and I like to keep in touch with what's going on down south of the border. If you go to this link you can see mapped sighting of the Monarchs moving out of Mexico and California, and movement in Florida...also there's a map showing Asclepias sightings.
Asclepias is the milkweed family that Monarchs depend on for feeding - particularly in their larval stage...they lay their eggs on milkweed plants and after the caterpillar hatches, it feeds on the host plant.
It's important how the migration is timed. If the migration starts too soon, the milkweeds will not be up in large enough numbers to support the egg laying...one link broken in this fragile chain and it's all over for the species. Milkweeds are also an important nectar source for adult Monarchs but they don't need milkweed as much as adults since they feed on any source of nectar (flower). You won't find too many milkweeds in bloom early in the season, but the plant itself is what's the most important for the species early on their trip back north.
I like to photograph Monarchs in both stages of their life cycle but must admit the adult butterfly stage is the most mesmerizing; such large beautiful creatures!
I wanted to incorporate a Monarch in a painting I did for an area orchestra fund raiser a couple years back...I put it on the "front" of a violin (I'll show the "back" at another time), the painting was done on mounted canvas, on the violin itself, and the medium was Casein.
The scene was taken from Prairie Hill Farm itself and one of our very own "friends" enjoying some time on Heliopsis helianthoides (False Sunflower), a very common native here and one of several favorites for butterflies of all knds.
We may very well get lucky and see one or two other types of early butterflies here in the next 2-3 weeks if the weather cooperates, but our Monarch friends will be a bit later; maybe we'll get lucky in early May?! One can only hope!
They're on their way!!