Protecting Monarchs This Summer

Protecting Monarchs This Summer

Yippee, it’s the first day of Summer and I am so happy that it is finally here.  It really seemed as if it took forever to arrive.  Now for the downside.  Tomorrow the days start getting shorter and in just six weeks the south bound monarch migration begins and it is off to Mexico for the winter.  I know it seems that they haven’t even reached most places yet but around August 2nd monarchs residing in the northern most range begin to move South.  Don’t blame me, blame the angle of the Sun on the 2nd of August.  Now, don’t go throwing your hands in the air in despair because there is still plenty that needs to be done before they pack their bags.  In the lower 48 Monarchs will be trickling through into November and we still have 3 more generations to nurture before Autumn is here.

 

Now that the milkweed is up and healthy everything should be just peachy for our little charges, right?  Unfortunately, nothing could be further from the truth!  All through the summer caterpillars are constantly under assault from every angle and everybody.  Lady bugs, ants, and spiders will suck butterfly eggs dry and dine on caterpillars.  Birds and wasps will also search out larvae for a healthy snack and mice love to nibble on chrysalis.  Nasty things such as Chalcid wasps and Tachinid flies will land on a caterpillars and inject their eggs into it.  As a readymade nursery their maggots will eventually kill their host by devouring it from the inside out.  In general, any black and orange patterned beetle near your milkweed or butterflies is never a good sign.  Culprits such as Assassin and Ambush bugs will thrust their beaks into a victim and inject it with an immobilizing digestive agent.  They will then suck out the body liquids leaving behind a very flattened caterpillar.  Another orange and black bandit is the large milkweed bug.  Unlike its cousins, it feeds on the seeds, leaves and stems of milkweed and they are usually found in groups on stems, leaves and pods.

 

Sometimes it seems that monarchs just can’t catch a break.  That is unless you are using the Monarch Migration Station.  The Station was purposely designed to protect your butterflies. The mesh walls and vent will keep all those nasties far away from your eggs, caterpillars, and chrysalis.  Since they cannot get in they cannot harm your babies.  Airflow is also very important when raising butterflies and healthy plants.  A nice breeze will keep milky mildew from destroying your plants and mold from forming in a too damp environment.  Plus the walls allow the just right amount of sunlight in to nourish caterpillars and plants alike.

Anything that does find its way inside can easily be managed by hand picking which eliminates the need for any use of insecticides.  Any aphids that are found can be knocked down with a gentle stream of water.  Once you hit them with the water their beaks will snap off and they will fall to the ground.  Don’t worry if you see them scurry along the ground because once their beaks are broken they can no longer feed again.

 

Hopefully, your first generation is going into chrysalis by now and you are anticipating you second.  What I enjoy about my Station is how the caterpillers love to form their chrysalis right along the seams of the roof and upper walls.  By using the Monarch Migration Station your butterflies will thrive in their protected habitat until you are ready to set them free.

 

 

By Rick Mikula, The Butterfly Guy

 

 

 

#mms #MonarchMigrationStation #SaveTheMonarchs #RickMikula #TheButterflyGuy #gardening #raisedbeds #help #protect #FIA #FrameItAll

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