Surprising monarch butterfly ovipositing behaviour

July 26.  Today I saw the first monarch in my yard.  There is still hope.  I should have seen them here in my Toronto yard a month ago, at least.

She was in good shape, but frantic.  She darted from milkweed to milkweed, testing it with her feet for less than a second.  Too dirty, too old, not my type.  She’d light on a nectar plant, and not sip.  She’d change direction, and return to a patch she had just visited, this time, staying one to two seconds on a leaf.  My experience has been, that when the female is laying eggs, she stays two or three seconds.  Would she leave me any eggs?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAToday she did not float, as monarchs do.  She seemed either crazed, or on a mission.

I waited for an hour after she left, in case she wanted to come back.  I found a dozen of her eggs.  That’s a big deal, considering I have scoured various milkweed patches in the region for dozens of hours in the blazing heat, to find only a handful.  Alas, some for me, and some to share.  I find great joy in giving them to fellow enthusiasts.

I couldn’t believe she could lay an egg on the tiniest, most frail seedlings, that surely could not support her weight.  She preferred them to the mature swamp, ice ballet, butterfly weed, and whorled milkweed.  She laid two on fresh common.  All but two were on the underside of the leaf.  The other two were on top.  Now, there could be eggs on the buds of the white ice ballet swamp milkweed, but how would I see them?

The hunt continues… with even more passion, as more reports of sightings south and west of Toronto come in.

 

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