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Hatching Monarchs • Southern Rural Route

This is Cee’s wine bottle flower bed which you first saw at Yard Art with Wine Bottles and a Plow.

Wine bottle garden

She has planted seeds or plants of an impressive list of butterfly attractors – alyssum, cosmos, dill, dutchman’s pipe, fennel, lantana, lavender, lemon grass, parsley, penta, phlox, passion vine, sage, milkweed, purple coneflower, purple salvia, Shasta daisy, stonecrop, sweetpea, verbena and zinnia.

Last year, my friend Cee had two milkweed plants – one yellow and one red (Asclepias tuberosa in the Eastern U.S.). Milkweed is both a food and a host plant for monarch butterflies and she soon found monarchs in her yard. The plants came up again this year and Cee is doing her best to expand the Monarch population. She’s learning by doing.

Once the caterpillars hatched, she placed a dollar store mesh hamper over the milkweed plant to protect them from predators (see photo above). She secured the bottom of the mesh hamper with rocks and mulch.

At one point she talked about moving the caterpillars from one place to another. I freaked out. I do NOT do worms even if they eventually become a beautiful butterfly. She quickly calmed me by admitting that she used a stick. She either encouraged them to get on the stick or she used the stick to gently pick them up. Whew, what a relief!

Cee leaves them in the hamper only a short time once she notices a monarch has hatched. She uses her fingers to pick them up and remove them from the hamper or they get on her finger and she sets them on another plant in case they haven’t finished drying.  Most have flown right off her hand.

Notice chrysalis hanging from top of the mesh hamper The only chrysalis that grew on a stem Newly released monarch Monarch released on Easter Sunday

The number of butterflies she releases every day can vary from 2 all the way up to 7. She has about 17 caterpillars now but hopes to grow and release more over the summer.