Thursday, September 13, 2012

My One Great Weed

There is one lone milkweed plant that comes up in my front yard every year.

To the average suburbanite, it looks like a weed and sticks out like a sore thumb in the midst of the low shrubbery that surrounds it.

Every year I leave it alone, knowing that it is the only plant that can host monarch butterflies and hoping that they will choose my plant to make new life.


Historically, this weed gets more action than many other plants in the yard.

The bunnies munch from the bottom and the deer de-foliate the top of the plant.  Thanks to the deer, it has never made it to the flowering stage.  And it has never hosted any butterfly larvae.

Yesterday I was taking a break and sitting in the sun on the front porch when I was pondering my poor pathetic milkweed stalk.  It only had a few leaves left and those were half-eaten and didn't look very healthy...

Half eaten!!  Wait a minute...that means...


Finally, after years of leaving the weed to grow, I found three monarch caterpillars hiding under the few tattered leaves that the deer had left behind.   A meager meal but a meal nonetheless.

Striped, vibrant and very busy...


Who would have thought that this poor, bedraggled plant would still look like home to an egg-bearing female butterfly.  Yet she saw possibility.  Or maybe she was just desperate.

The lesson isn't lost on me...

We can make a lot from a little.


And from the smallest, humblest, least-foliated of beginnings can come great things.

Fingers crossed that they move onto the next stage before the food runs out...

24 comments:

yarngoddess said...

OMG, I would put up a cover to keep the deer from enjoying the protein snacks on those leaves.

Good luck with the nursery.

Susan Elliott said...

Good idea!!! I'm off to do that...

coral-seas said...

I hope there is enough food for them. Could you put wire around the milkwood earlier in the year to keep the bunnies and the deer away. I am sure they can find plently of other plants to eat in the garden :-)

Marian Hertzog said...

So much fun to watch! Can't wait to see if they stay! We had parsley on our deck and watched the blue and black butterflies emerge from the chrysalis. It was fascinating!

Teresa in Music City said...

Oh my! What a wonderful thing to witness!!! Hope they get all they need on those few poor leaves. Isn't nature amazing? I love your analogy. We think we have to have so much, but here is this little caterpillar making do and probably quite happy with what is available...and looking spectacular in the process too I might add!

Marty52 said...

Way cool... but you may need to find another milkweed plant and tuck it in next to that one so those little striped beauties can finish growing!!

Carol- Beads and Birds said...

I never saw a Monarch caterpiller. Aren't they beautiful!

We have what I call a weed patch in the back yard. Every year I plant bird seed there and milkweed keeps coming back. The birds have a heyday in there but I have to admit that I have never looked at the leaves.
Love your pics.
xx, Carol

Chrissie said...

I hope so, too! They're really beautiful. I keep parsley growing for the Blue Swallowtails-they love it! I think your deer and bunnies would love it, too. 'Course, you could fence it off, both the Milkweed and the Parsley.

Suztats said...

WooHoo! I love the monarchs and we've been watching for them in our area....lots of people are now growing milkweed in an effort to replenish the monarch's dwindling numbers. Good stuff.

Alisa Noble said...

Ahh, I love this post! Such beautiful, little beings with such a beautiful, big lesson!!

Laurel's Quill said...

Totally cool. I didn't know that they were home to such a beautiful butterfly...I'm such a weed stalker.

gracie said...

Wonderful I know you will keep us all informed with pictures. I can hardly wait.

Rachel said...

Gorgeous stripy caterpillars - maybe it took a while for the local population to catch on?

Vicky aka Stichr said...

these wildlife photos you have taken are AMAZeing!!! thank you!!!!!

Judy S. said...

Oh wow, you have your very own very hungy caterpillars! Could you maybe gather some more milkweed leaves for them? Milkweed doesn't grow here, so we don't have any monarchs. They sure are pretty butterflies!

Laurie said...

Awesome!! When we were kids, we'd find the caterpillars and add it and some milkweed to a jar. When it formed its chrysalis, Dad would hang the lid in the archway and we'd watch the miracle of nature take place. Then when dry, we'd set them free. In fact my sister and I were just talking about that!

Catherine said...

Fantastic!! Please keep us posted on their progress!

Sweetpea said...

SPLENDID news!! I think you've got *Christmas* over here, too ;>]]

Sheila said...

You're so funny! Thank you. :)

pamelaric said...

I grew up in Southern Oregon where milkweed and monarchs are plenty. My brother and I would check all the milkweed plants every day in the summer, looking for those caterpillars. We loved watching them encase themselves in a beautiful chrysalis and then turn into butterflies. Thank you so much for reminding me of the joy and wonder of my youth.
Pamela

Jen said...

How funny to see this post, I was just in my backyard this week, I have kept up fennel and parsley in the hopes I would have caterpillars hosting in it, and sure enough, for the first time, this year they are chowing down on it. So pleased.

Chris(craft) and Dave(photos) Richards said...

Hi Susan, first of all I would like to thank you for the wonderful comments on my blog ! Your photography is fantastic....My hubby is into photography............
http://davesoldshortlegsphotoblog.blogspot.co.uk/
I am going to llok through your archives for inspiration !!
Love and hugs
Chris richards
xxxxxxxxx
http://ellascraftcreations.blogspot.co.uk/

margaret said...

you must be enjoying watching those fat caterpillars, here in Leeds I have seen none this year and can count on one hand the butterflies, all to do with the very wet and miserable summer we have had.I feed the birds but they have not been interested, seem to finding lots of insects on the hedges and as for slugs, well there have been thousands!!

Linda H said...

Any monarch chrysalises yet?!

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