King Kamehamehas I-V, King Lunalilo, King Kalākaua, and Queen Liliuokalani are the famous Monarchs of Hawaii, but I’m talking about the little, quiet Monarchs I’m used to – the butterflies.
We left Molokai on Wednesday and headed to Lanai to stay with friends at their house for a few days. On the way back from the beach, we took the “Happy Dust” (don’t ask me what that means!) road back to the house that was a bit rugged. Deer ran out in front of us a couple of times, but the road was rough so we were going too slow to hit any, thankfully. It was pretty wild out there, but I was surprised to see one of my favorites plants, Milkweed, growing along the side of the road. Not just any milkweed, but – wait for it – Hairy Balls! Lots of it. I found one plant with a caterpillar munching away. I didn’t know Monarch butterflies were on Hawaii! I guess I assumed they were only on the mainland because they have to make the trek to Mexico, but I guess there’s more to these butterflies than I knew. There isn’t a lot of info out there about Hawaiian monarch butterflies, but there is a project underway to figure out what their migration pattern might be. Obviously, they aren’t flying to Mexico, but maybe they are flying interisland. Interesting. Anyway, everyone patiently waited while I jumped out of the truck to get some pictures.
And just a little of the good life!
I’ve got Monarch butterflies flitting all over my yard this week. Sitting on my front porch, it’s a constant back and forth of these little beauties.
I planted more milkweed (Asclepias) to add to the plants that were eaten down to nothing. I found an interesting variety that is two colors, yellow and red. Hopefully, this will seed itself to fill in the area a bit more.
I have watched butterflies laying eggs on the milkplant leaves. The egg sacs are tiny. Hard to believe the circle of life that will come from this little dot!
Monarch egg sac on the under side of a milkweed leaf
Milkweed is a pretty bush and is an asset for any yard. Just think how many butterflies we’d have flying around if everybody had milkweed in their gardens!
All the milkweed in my garden is looking veeeerrrry bare right now, which is a good thing. That means Monarch butterfly caterpillars ate their fill. And to that I say, Bon Appetit!
Once the caterpillars ate their fill of the milkweed, they dispersed to points all over the garden. Chrysalis’ are hanging off trellises, pots, limbs and the fence.
Some of the chrysalis’ are turning brown and dying. This one is in the beginning stages: still beautiful but not the usual brilliant green.
Here are two in different stages. Eventually, they both died.
After doing some research I think I have decided that the culprit is the tachinid fly. The fly lays its eggs on the caterpillar or on the eggs the butterflies lay on the milkweed. You really don’t know you have a problem until it’s too late. I hate to lose a beautiful chrysalis, but nature has its own plans. This one’s a goner.
Even with my monarch losses, there are still Monarch butterflies hatching in the garden.
Another miracle of nature right outside my front door.
Today was hatching day for a monarch butterfly in my yard. Yesterday’s post showed the beautiful chrysalis and today started out much the same, but by noon we had a new butterfly out in the garden.
It's almost time!!!
I kept watch for the hatching, but ultimately missed the big event. It happened pretty quickly, inside a half hour.
The new butterfly spent a few hours resting and drying out its wings.
A bed of lemon balm to rest and spread wings
The detail of the butterfly wings is stunning! A work of art.
Butterfly wings up close
Out on the milkweed a new generation is munching away. Hopefully, I’ll have a continuous cycle of caterpillars, chrysalis’ and butterflies in the yard.
The next generation
In the big picture it was just a blip, but it was a big deal for me!
All this happened in my front yard yesterday. A very interesting weather pattern rolled through here today and by mid-morning lightning was striking close by every few minutes, followed immediately by growling, cracking and rolling thunder. Rain fell sporadically in big, ploppy drops, enough to give a nice drink to the garden. After listening from my desk for awhile, I couldn’t stand it anymore and had to go stand out in the garden in the middle of the action.
It smelled very tropical out there, with warm humidity, flowers, and earthy smells wafting up from the light rain. The raindrops were big and ploppy, and the thunder was spectacular. It was growling (I’ve never heard that before!),cracking and rolling across the sky. I LOVED IT!!! I missed my days of living in Germany when the summer thunderstorms occurred on a regular basis. It was a real treat to have here on the last day of September.
Last week after I wrote about my milkweed being eaten up and wondered what happened to the caterpillars that were munching it. A few days later, I found a chrysalis hanging on an echeverria leaf about 8 feet away. It was like a beautful little jewel, green with a gold (yes, shiny gold) band and gold dots. Beautiful.
During the storm yesterday, I checked on the chrysalis to make sure the leaf it was hanging from hadn’t been blown over. I was surprised to find a monarch butterfly hanging next to the chrysalis! My little garden jewel hatched! It’s a miracle!
An hour later I went out to check on it and it was resting on top of my lemon balm.
And then it was gone. The whole process was done within hours and I’m sorry I wasn’t able to see it from start to finish, but a quiet, little miracle happened in my front yard and I was there.