We haven't mowed our lawn in a number of years. Laziness? Oh, perhaps. But a lot of it has to do with the fact that we live in the country and if we let it go, then we get milkweed plants. And milkweed brings monarch butterflies. And we can bring the caterpillars in and raise them in jars and increase the odds that they'll mature to butterflies.
So we're raising monarch butterflies. Or at least that's what we tell people.
Alas, Slim Pickings
The last two years have been poor for monarch caterpillars, though. We think it was because the shrubbery farm to our west dug themselves up, planted corn for a year, then started over. That corn year involved enough pesticides that we noticed, along with our one neighbor, a real shortage of monarchs around here.
I know we got at least one, maybe two monarchs raised last year. This year? We've seen the butterflies, but it wasn't until Sundaythe 8th that we spotted a honking big 'un on one of the milkweeds just outside one of the kitty room windows:
The Queen of Monarchs
This weekend Pat, Mrs. Dr. Phil's stepmom, is visiting us. She's the one who got us started on monarchs -- so far this year she's started 490+, with about a 16 percent failure rate. And since she's got all these hungry, hungry little caterpillars, she shows up with a cooler filled with jars and ziplock baggies. Last night she did some sorting and repacking:
Of course she's picking leaves to feed her brood and keeps finding more. (grin)
Here are some of the more advanced ones:
Three became butterflies today -- I didn't get a shot of them in their jars and wasn't around when they were released. But life goes on. And monarchs continue.