After waiting longer than usual, trying to be patient, I began to panic. Were we going to see any monarchs at all this year? In my favorite online monarch group, I was hearing the same thing from all over the country….numbers way down…not seeing anything. There were very few comments about normal or slightly higher than usual numbers.
Here at Kaleidoscope Kisses, we were seeing nothing. Zip…. zilch…nada. I was working on a special project which would require me to have caterpillars in all stages by mid September. I contacted some friends in the neighborhood and found one that had some eggs. He said I could come and collect what he had. We picked up 54 eggs from him and brought them home. The next day, we had about 30 of our own. While this may sound like a lot, most years we’ll collect closer to 100+ every day for at least the first week. While at this point last year, we had collected over 1000 eggs, this year, we’ve had closer to 50 on our 300+ milkweed plants. So 50 ish eggs is exceedingly low – scary low. There were a couple of days that we found only one or two eggs and one day that we found zero. To complicate matters, this has been the worst year for aphids, ever. While we’re used to a lot of them, it has never been like this. Thus, we now also have a severe problem with sooty mold. While it can be washed from the leaves, it’s not easy and takes about 20 minutes per plant. We’ve never had sooty mold before – ever!
So, while we have a start, all of the littles I have now will be in chrysalides by the time I need them for my project. If we don’t continue to find some I don’t know what will happen. We’ll have to go foraging in other areas and hope that we can come up with some every few days.
All of this leads me to wonder what the numbers are going to be like for the population this year. Overall, it just doesn’t bode well for our beautiful butters.