Monarch X-ING


TheGardenLady has written before about the disappearance of the Monarch butterfly. There was not one Monarch in my garden last summer. And TheGardenLady has written about the need to raise plants in your garden that will feed Monarch butterflies if they come to your area. Special plants are needed for Monarchs to feed and breed.

On this subject of the Monarch butterfly, an excellent new book recently appeared on about what one town is doing to encourage Monarchs to come and feed before laying eggs for a new generation of Monarch butterflies or migrating to Mexico. The book is ” MONARCH X-ING” by Pecki Sherman Witonsky. You can buy it here.

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Siproeta epaphus

TheGardenLady received this question from Michael.

I’m not seeing a black monarch. It’s a butterfly with black wings and orange tips. What is it?

We readers of TheGardenLady column also wish you had sent a photo of the butterfly with black wings and orange tips. Or perhaps you could tell us the area of the country where you saw this spectacular butterfly. Both a photo and the location could perhaps help us figure out which butterfly you saw.

Could it have been Siproeta epaphus with the common name of Rusty-tipped Page or Black and Tan butterfly?This butterfly is seen in the southern part of the US and in Central and South America. You can see more photos of this butterfly on this website.

If this is not the butterfly, see if you can find the name of the butterfly by using this website for identifying butterflies.

And let TheGardenLady readers know which butterfly you saw.

How to Make a Butterfly Garden

Have you ever wanted to make your own butterfly garden, but didn’t know where to start? Or had so much trouble finding plant information for your region that it just didn’t seem worth it? What’s the difference between nectar flowers and host plants? What is a “butterfly puddle” and why do you need it? Is a butterfly bush really the best way to attract butterflies to your yard?

Butterfly gardens can be intimidating, but they don’t need to be.

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Butterflies Need YOUR Help

Everyone knows about the plight of butterflies, especially the Monarch butterfly. Did you know that the Monarch butterfly population has dwindled by over 90%?

How would you like to Help Save the Monarch Butterfly by Becoming a Butterfly Hero? By pledging to be a butterfly hero, you could win a trip for 4 to Disney World. To learn all about how to become a Butterfly Hero go to the National Wildlife Federation website.

Please help save these beautiful butterflies and get all your family and friends to help, too. If enough people become butterfly heroes perhaps we will see the beautiful Monarchs filling our gardens, yards and parks, etc. once again.

How To Control Pests – Part III

This post is the third in a series of posts on the control of pests.

The third question a gardener has to ask is “Will the pests spread to other plants?”

Knowing about  the pest that is affecting your plant is important so that you can know enough to outsmart the insect with the minimum amount of force or effort. Some insect pests love many crops while others insect prefer only one family of plants.

The insects that eat only one family of plants are easiest to eradicate. By getting rid of the family of plants, you eliminate that insect population. Sadly, that is what is happening to the Monarch butterfly. The Monarch butterfly’s caterpillar can only feed on the asclepias or milkweed plants – no other plant family. Milkweed is a weed pest on farms and are destroyed when builders build houses with gorgeous lawns. So the Monarch butterfly is dying out.
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Happy International Day of Happiness

monarch on asclepias, 7 Aug 2012 by mmwm

Today is the International Day of Happiness. The UN designation of The International Day of Happiness is for Wed., March 20th, which is also the first day of spring this year. Let us celebrate !!!! (see here)

What can make one happier than planning your garden if you are in areas where it is still too cold to plant and to be working in your garden if you live in areas warm enough to plant?

On this International Day of Happiness think about how happy you will be when the flowers you love will be blooming in your garden.  Flowers that bring joy not only to you, your family and friends, but your neighbors and people who walk and drive by your yard as well as the insects, birds and animals that survive because of you. Today bring out those catalogs and check off your list all the flowering plants you will grow in your garden this summer.

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Butterflies in the TheGardenLady’s garden and in Cape May


ThisGardenLady was just out raking leaves- not the first time this summer. (In another post, I will write more about the trees on my property that make raking a year round endeavor). Just as I was about to start cursing the trees, what looked like a fresh young Monarch butterfly flitted around in front of me, going from flower to flower, to take me out of my evil frame of mind. It was so fresh looking, it must just have emerged from its chrysalis.  This Monarch stayed near where I was raking for quite a long time so that I could enjoy its beauty.  Then an Eastern Tiger Swallowtail joined in.

Butterflies are one of the joys of having a flower garden. I do not have as many zinnias in my garden as this YouTube lady has, but you can see how butterflies love zinnias if you watch the video above.

Did you know that the Monarch butterflies on the East Coast of the United States fly to Mexico to over winter? And before they fly over the ocean, these butterflies must fill up with food to be able to make this journey. Watch this video to learn more.


Cape May seems to be the last stop for the Monarch butterflies on that big flight. So if readers want to see this amazing migration stopping point, drive down almost to the tip of the peninsula and island in New Jersey to the town called Cape May Point- 12 minutes south of Cape May.  Stop at the Cape May Bird Observatory in Cape May Point. Go to the Cape May Point State Park. In this area there is a monitoring program where people are tagging, counting and now weighing the Monarchs. You might be able to join in.  This tagging started on Sept. 1 and will continue through October 31.

I was told that they are seeing huge numbers of Monarchs this summer. If you walk around Cape May Point, you will see a lot of houses with signs that say the house has an award winning garden. You might even see people counting the butterflies in some of these gardens.  If the owners are outside, you can ask if you can see what makes the Monarchs so happy in these gardens.

Bad News for Butterflies

Butterfly by

The news about butterflies is not good.

In 2011 the BBC reported that 72% of the butterfly species population in the UK were in decline (see here). The report is in that about 10 percent of all species are now threatened with extinction in Europe (see here) and a lot of this has happened in the last 15 years.

Butterfly by

This year a post by the Yale University School of Forestry and Environmental studies reports that the Monarch butterfly is in decline and this might be caused by the use of Monsanto genetically modified crops. (see here) Weed killers cause decline of butterflies is reported in California (see here).

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Trees that Encourage Butterflies and Moths to Breed

Monarchs in the eucalyptus trees by Images by John ‘K’

Do you want to encourage more butterflies and moths to your garden? One generally thinks of planting shrubs and perennial flowers in the garden for the butterflies and moths. However you must consider that some of these butterflies and moths need trees. Some butterflies or moths lay their eggs on them and then need tree leaves where the larva will feed when they hatch. Some need trees to take shelter in. So if you are thinking of planting a tree in your yard, consider some of the trees that might encourage butterflies and moths to breed.

Here are just the needs of a few of the common butterflies or moths.

luna moth by Creativity+ Timothy K…

Starting with the Luna Moth -Actias luna, a beautiful green huge moth with a wingspan of 4 1/2 inches, that if you are lucky enough to have seen, is an exciting treat. This GardenLady has them. They love one tree TheGardenLady has on her property. The Luna Moth lays its eggs on the leaves of the black walnut tree. But the larva eat the leaves of numerous trees including sweetgum, American beech, red maple, hickories, white oak, black cherries, willows, American chestnut and smooth sumac. These are all trees that I either have on my property or are growing near my property (see here), and if you have them or are near them, you might be lucky enough to see one of these lovely moths that only fly at night.

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Butterflies in High Line Park

Butterfly on a yellow flower by tanakawho

Whenever I see a butterfly, I get so excited, I am like a child. What is the wonder of butterflies that make them so magical?  Bear with TheGardenLady as I share a favorite poem or skip to the bottom to read about Manhattan’s newest park.

“To A Butterfly” (1801)
I’VE watched you now a full half-hour;
Self-poised upon that yellow flower
And, little Butterfly! indeed
I know not if you sleep or feed.
How motionless!–not frozen seas
More motionless! and then
What joy awaits you, when the breeze
Hath found you out among the trees,
And calls you forth again!

This plot of orchard-ground is ours;
My trees they are, my Sister’s flowers;
Here rest your wings when they are weary;
Here lodge as in a sanctuary!
Come often to us, fear no wrong;
Sit near us on the bough!
We’ll talk of sunshine and of song,
And summer days, when we were young;
Sweet childish days, that were as long
As twenty days are now.

STAY near me–do not take thy flight!
A little longer stay in sight!
Much converse do I find in thee,
Historian of my infancy!
Float near me; do not yet depart!
Dead times revive in thee:
Thou bring’st, gay creature as thou art!
A solemn image to my heart,
My father’s family!
Oh! pleasant, pleasant were the days,
The time, when, in our childish plays,
My sister Emmeline and I
Together chased the butterfly!
A very hunter did I rush
Upon the prey:–with leaps and springs
I followed on from brake to bush;
But she, God love her, feared to brush
The dust from off its wings.

By William Wordsworth (1770-1850).

Today I saw the second Monarch butterfly this summer. I wasn’t certain the first butterfly I saw yesterday was really a Monarch because it flitted away from me so quickly. Then I spoke to a friend who saw a Monarch flying when she was walking on the High Line in Manhattan a few weeks ago. So I knew that the Monarch butterflies are starting to migrate in my area.

090610 High Line Park 017 by joevare

If you don’t know about the High Line and love walking in gardens then you are in for a treat if you visit Manhattan. It is the newest park. Located on Manhattan’s West Side, it runs from Gansevoort Street in the Meatpacking District to West 34th Street, between 10th & 11th Avenues. Section 1 of the High Line opened to the public on June 9, 2009 and the rest just opened June 8, 2011.The park is filled with native plants. Check out their website where you can get a list of the native plants they planted and which plants are in bloom each month.  See here.