Monarch Butterflies Love Frostweed. Rerun: Original -posted 11/14/2012

Monarch on fall blooming native Frostweed. Photographed September, 2011

Monarch on fall blooming native Frostweed. Photographed September, 2011

Migrating Monarch nectaring on native Frostweed.  Photographed September 26, 2011

Migrating Monarch nectaring on Frostweed.
Photographed September 26, 2011

058I’m so sorry folks but this is a post that is an old one. But I see that WP did not recognize the original post date. I needed to rework this post due to some errors of spelling, etc. and the fact that these were done as a gallery posting. And the photos did not come out as a slide show as I had intended. I had goofed mightily and thus pulled it from the blog where it has been sitting as “private.” So tonight, February 25, 2014, I worked on “reworking” this post. πŸ™‚ Anyhoo so much for all that.

Around September the The Frostweed, a native, begins blooming. This dependable and very hardy plant is a nectar source for many species of butteflies. I’ve allowed it to grow in all its wild glory and in one area it is at least six feet tall. The tall ones grow along a wooden fence and receive the benefits of the neighbors lawn sprinkler system. Under the Cedar Elms and Live Oaks it is much shorter and maybe grows to about three to four feet tall. These areas where the shorties grow is much drier with dappled shade.

Some fifty years ago I planted maybe two plants that I dug from the wild. This past year I created a space of plants that caters to the butterflies taste. With the arrival of about five Mexican Butterfly Weed plants, the Monarchs all but ignored the Frostweed and instead zeroed in on the colorful Mexican butterfly weed which serves as a host and nectar plant for the Monarchs,

Freezing temps of 18-20 degrees killed the Mexican Butterfly Weed, a tropical flower. And, possibly a few other flowers of first year plantings that did not have an established root system. Now, I will have to buy new plants. I don’t mind spending a little bit of money. Anything to help the dwindling number of Monarch butterflies. Conservation practice is always a good thing no matter how small the effort.

Below is a link of one of my blogging friends, Stephen Gingold who is a superb photographer. Please check out his blog. His photos are a real treat. The first photo that appears when the link opens up is of a plant called Frostweed that grows in northeast, United States.

Monarch butterfly nectaring on Frostweed.  Honey bee in background. September 26, 2011

Monarch butterfly nectaring on Frostweed. Honey bee in background. September 26, 2011

Monarch Nectaring on Frostweed growing in my yard. September 26, 2011

Monarch Nectaring on Frostweed growing in my yard. September 26, 2011

  Monarch butterfly     (honey bee in background)

Monarch butterfly on Frostweed 9/26/2011

 Monarch feeding on Frostweed, growing in my yard.  October, 2011

Monarch feeding on Frostweed, growing in my yard. October, 2011

Monarch butterfly on fall blooming native Frostweed

Monarch butterfly on fall blooming native Frostweed

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26 thoughts on “Monarch Butterflies Love Frostweed. Rerun: Original -posted 11/14/2012

  1. Beautiful photographs, Yvonne. The Frostweed looks familiar and I’ve been trying to find out if we have a European equivalent but it doesn’t look like we have. Of course the Monarch is a North American butterfly and is not usually seen in continental Europe, although there has been some rare sighting of one in the UK. A wikipedia article led me to this piece of information

    “The total number of records for the British Isles is less than 500. The most-recent major migration was in 1981 with 135 sightings. Many north American bird species were also recorded that year. However, there is still some question as to the true origin of this immigration since the species is also known from Madeira, southern Spain, Portugal and the Canary Islands, which it reached in 1860 and survives using Asclepias curassavica as its foodplant.

    The larva feeds on various Milkweeds (Asclepias species) which are not native to the British Isles, and this explains why the immature stages have not been found in the British Isles. However, in August 1981, a Monarch that had escaped from a nearby butterfly farm was seen to lay on Milkweeds in Kew Gardens. Some of the eggs were collected and reared indoors, where the first adult emerged just one month after the egg had been laid. This species is a rare migrant to the British Isles. Although there are records from many areas, sightings are concentrated in the south and west of both England and Ireland. There is a particular concentration in Cornwall and the Scilly Isles”.

    • Mike that is all new and very interesting information to me. I had no idea the Monarch is found in Spain, Portugual, and the Canary Islands. I had read that is has been recorded in GB and I think those sightings were believed to be the result of certain weather patterns. It is intersting also that the escapees found some milkweed. Individuals involved that collected the eggs were wise to do so. Survival rate for the caterpillars is only 10% but that is for all species of butterflies.

      Thanks so much for the information. It was an enjoyable read.

  2. sybil says:

    Wonderful images and not a flake of snow in sight ! I plan on planting a Butterfly Bush this spring.

    • Sybil, I’m astounded that there is no snow. That is as it good as it gets for your neck of the woods this time of the year- I think. πŸ™‚ I’m just guessing about the weather. But yes by all means plant something for the butters that are found in your area. Then plant one or two more that are host plants. Good luck with the plantings. Hope to see some pics of butterflies on your blog later in the summer.

  3. shoreacres says:

    What a great post, Yvonne. I’m especially happy for the exchange between you and Steve. I’ve seen images online of frostweed flowers, and they were yellow – like his. When I saw your flowers, I was mightily confused. Now, I have myself straightened out. Just as there are nine varieties of milkweed on the Konza prairie, there obviously are different species of frostweed. Another reason to learn the scientific names! Oh – so many projects, so little time.

    I badly need to get out my poor little camera and learn how to use it well. Then, once I have that down, I can move up again to something better. Before I start traveling again, I want to have a camera that will take better photos that the ones I have of the prairie. My subjects deserve it!

    I saw some Texas dandelions, a blooming tree and some pretty purple flowers earlier this week. I hear that a little farther south the redbuds are blooming. It won’t be long before it really is spring, and we can enjoy the butterflies and flowers in ways other than photos!

    I like all of these photos, but for some reason the one with the butterfly and bee just tickles me. There’s enough room at the table for everyone!

    • Linda, your comments always add a great deal to my posts. Of course after reading your words, I feel so much better and then I don’t question the value of posting something from my little ole world.

      It makes he happy to know that you were “tickled” seeing the bee and the butterfly zeroing in on the same flower. The bees and butterflies are companionable and have no problem drinking from the same nectar source. I’m content with the fact that my plantings attract bees as well. There aren’t enough nectar sources for them either in times of drought. The flowers always have lots of bees. There are several bee keepers in the city as well as out in the country.

      Speaking of cameras. Just don’t make the same mistake that I did when you buy. Get the best lens that is available within your budget. The camera body does not have to be top of the line but you need a very good lens that can do the work of 2 or more lens. But that is my own personal opinion. Mine is a canon zoom 18-200mm. Get on some photo sites that have forums. I was on one and submitted one question. I dropped that site when it involved more reading than I could handle and it seemed that some of the guys were trying to impress with their knowledge of photography. But I did learn a few things.

      I like all the photos that you post. I have often wondered what camera and lens took those good photos. I thought Godot and Godette? were very good and all the other ones very good as well. I just wished that the pics were larger. ~yvonne

  4. penpusherpen says:

    All your trials posting wise, and also taking the original photo’s are so worth the effort Yvonne, (and Age? ’tis just a number!! πŸ™‚ ) Conservation is paramount, for these beauties of nature are just too valuable to lose. We have dwindling numbers of all varites here in Britain, through natural habitat being lost. See a flutter by and I defy anyone not to smile and feel a lift of the spirits. Many thanks for re-posting this, even tho’ you had a mighty tussle with WordPress. πŸ™‚ xPenx

    • Thanks so much for commenting, Penny. Yes, I can muck just about anything up when it comes to computers. I had read about how the numbers are down just about everywhere. Somehow the governemnts need to step in before we lose some of these species. Butterflies are so selective in what they use as a host plant and therein lies the problem. Most will nectar on just about any flower but for the caterpillars to eat and thrive there has to be that certain plant. Even if you live in the city and have a small space one can grow a few plants in containers.

      Yes, I reckon the reposting was a good thing. πŸ™‚

  5. Beautiful photos. I have never seen photographs of butterflies as beautiful as these. I like the last one best. The Frostweed is just as beautiful, no wonder the butterflies like to sit on them.

    • Ah Gerard, how very nice you are with words. I have that one favorite as well. It looks all bright and airy and the placement of the butterfly on the plant sort of makes the picture different.

  6. I am glad that you are planting for the monarchs, Yvonne. I also like seeing your frostweed. We have a different flower by that name in the northeast that is yellow and resembles a butterfly. I can’t link to it from my Kindle but will try later.
    And your pictures are better than you give yourself credit. πŸ™‚

  7. Lottie Nevin says:

    I really take my hat off to you, Yvonne. I think your conservation efforts are exemplary. All credit to you in helping to maintain areas of land that will encourage the breeding of rare plants and insects and attract birds and other wildlife. How interesting that the Monarchs zoned in on the Mexican Butterfly weed in preference to the Frostweed. All your planting and thoughts for how to make your garden and land ‘flora and fauna’ friendly has really paid off. I think your photos are excellent, I know you struggle because of your lens but these are so lovely and for someone that has never seen a Monarch butterfly, a real treat. Thank you.

    • Lottie you are so kind with your words and I thank you. I am working toward a long post of all the things planted for the birds. I want to get as much info on here as possible and hopefully I can get my daughter or someone to keep my blog going when I’m gone. But hopefully I have a few years left and if I’m lucky I’ll have more than a few. The problem is that the plant info is for my neck of the woods but maybe by reading what I’ve done to attract birds and butterflies will inspire someone to do the same. A few things planted is better than nothing. Just about anyone can plant a host and nectar plant. It does not cost a fortune. Some things were started as cuttings. I just happened to have planted most things years ago.

  8. Just Rod says:

    Friends of ours left this weekend (from Puerto Vallarta) to go for a three day visit to where the monarchs cluster here. We can’t wait to see them again to hear all about it. Not sure we could afford this trip, but we shall see what they say about it.
    Really enjoyed this post.

    • Thanks so much Rod. If you go back to the post you will see that I wrote 3-4 paragraphs. It is actually an old one that I had pulled and kept in hiding. I put the post date as 11/14/2011 but by golly WP did not recognize that and put it out as a new post. But I only had 6 comments so maybe it is a good thing after all.

      I am anxious to learn what y’alls friends have to say about the butterflies too. That trip should be very interesting. Maybe you and Susan can go next year to that part of Mexico. I’m assuming that you have to fly there since you are over yonder in PV.

  9. They are very beautiful.

  10. exiledprospero says:

    Splendid pictures, Yvonne. I find that they are not easy subjects to photograph. You have done a wonderful job. I took a few pictures of a butterfly in a jatropha bush last year. I didn’t mind the composition, but I found the focus to be quite soft of all of them. I must try again.

    • Thank you again. The problem with the butterflies is that I had to work hard to get those pics. Chasing them from flower to flower.The pics are not as good as I want but I am using a canon 18-200mm kit lens. Kit lenses are a cheap version. I did not know that when I bought my canon. I thought since it cost quite a bit of money that the lens was a good one. But I need a PRIME LENS. If you are focusing really close -use a tripod but that is so with most things especially if using a longer lens. I did not use a tripod because I could barely walk through the tall frostweed. (perenial native.) All of my pics were cropped a lot so that I could make a decent composition. And the colors are off a tad- I did not realize I had a UV filter over my lens. Maybe a soft focus would work for some of your photos. I am not a pro photographer by any stretch of the imagination- these are just tips that I read about. I use a tripod where and when I can. If you are really wanting to shoot butterflies and if you can afford it-get a macro lens and your pics will be superb.

  11. Such nice pictures!! Makes me miss the summer a little.. I love taking pictures of butterlies too! Very nice ones, Yvonne!!

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