This month the homestead has been a very busy place. The bees we introduced into their hive are doing well. A few worries, like the fact that they decided to raise a new queen for some reason, but still buzzing away. We have also noticed a whole host of other pollinators including bumble bees, dragonflies, other solitary bees and a ton of butterflies. In particular we have noticed several Monarch butterflies. It’s hard to not notice them, they are particularly large and beautiful and it was while attending an online course on pollinating insects that I discovered that they are on the verge of becoming an endangered species.
They really are remarkable, they spend time with us here in Illinois in June, lay their eggs on one species only, milkweed, and after raising 5 generations or so, migrate in September down to Mexico. They vacate in the warmer climes for three months or so and then start their journey back to us, raising a quick generation of young in Texas. These butterflies raised in Texas then make their way back to Illinois to delight us in June.
So, with this in mind, I ordered some milkweed seeds and then totally forgot to do anything with them! Imagine my surprise when a couple of weeks ago I noticed a Monarch butterfly anyway. Okay, so to be honest I didn’t really know what milkweed looked like. It turns out we have about three acres of the stuff in the land that we couldn’t clear this spring because the mower broke down. I did the initial post winter mow and then left it to its own devices. Perfect for the milkweed apparently! Despite its name it really is a pretty plant, smells nice too. I haven’t been able to get a picture of a Monarch butterfly yet, they fly off into the butterfly sanctuary we have apparently cultivated and it’s hard to follow them but I have managed to capture some others. All identifications are guesses, trying to match them against my butterfly book, it’s hard because no two butterflies are really the same! There is also a bright yellow butterfly that I can’t get close enough to photograph, with no photo it’s very hard to identify them. I will keep trying and I am determined to photograph a Monarch!