I don’t know if this would be of interest to you, but we have a LOT of monarch butterflies, their caterpillars and chrysalises this year. At last count, there were 65 in various stages, and we have seen several dozen butterflies emerge in the last month, so roughly 100 this season so far.
We also rescue injured or deformed Monarchs and feed them homemade nectar until they die naturally. (They live about two weeks.)
We have been cultivating milkweed plants for the past four years as host plant for the monarch. Most of this is in a garden area about the size of a two-car garage, within approximately 10,000 square feet of landscaping. We have given up our vegetable garden to increase the quantity of milkweeds, and it must be working. I think we have become a waystation for their migration.
It would be nice if your paper could get local residents interested in planting milkweed to attract monarchs. Milkweed is self-sustaining, reseeds easily, is somewhat drought-tolerant, and is not ugly. It is the monarch’s host plant and the only thing on the planet that their caterpillars can eat, so the caterpillars are not harmful to gardens.
Our garden was featured in the Fall 2011 edition of Country Gardens [magazine in a story] titled “Make Way for Butterflies,” but this year really has been a record-breaker for us. We have had to scour the local nurseries for extra plants, since many of ours have been stripped of leaves by the hordes of caterpillars. It is quite a sight.
Harry and Jean Pope