Today was an amazing monarch day! Over the course of the afternoon I saw at least 12 individual monarchs. I was trying not to count them twice and actually I had more observations than twelve, but was not always sure if a new monarch had just arrived or if I was seeing the same one in a different location.
Unfortunately, the milkweed is not up yet ~ except for two little sprouts ~ the first milkweed of the spring season which I found today. It is very unusual for the monarchs in any numbers to be here ahead of the milkweed, though it is often very close timing.
The first monarch I saw today was a faded female (around 2:30pm ~ my first chance to look around) fluttering low over an area that usually grows milkweed abundantly. She was diligently and slowly checking out the variety of green field grasses. Sadly, she was not finding anything to lay eggs on, at least while I was observing.
I went down to the lower pastures around 3pm. There I saw 4 monarchs (1 female and 3 males). This female too was slowly and methodically looking for milkweed. She was a richer color than the earlier female, but slightly faded. Though there were nectar flowers in abundance near her, I did not see her nectaring and I also did not see her find milkweed to lay eggs on. The three males were covering a wide area sailing around, nectaring on false garlic flowers, and sunning in the grass with wings outspread. All the territory they were flying around develops milkweed patches, just none yet.
Around 3:30pm as I walked to the upper pastures I saw 2 monarchs flying and I watched a slightly faded female as she nectared on blackberry blossoms along a fence line.
At 4pm I saw 3 more monarchs, one that flew right past me then sailed high into the sky moving in an easterly direction. Another also sailing high and fast heading for trees. The third was a male I found nectaring on Indian paintbrush flowers.
Throughout the day there was a mix of clouds and sun, it was quite breezy with gusts around 12mph, the temperature stayed around 69 degrees F, with low humidity of 33%.
At 5:30pm I saw 3 monarchs in the lower pasture and bottomland. I think they were all males from their flying patterns. They were at times nectaring from false garlic and the last one I saw was sunning. I got too close and startled him, not seeing him on the ground, so he had to fly a dozen yards away and find another warming spot! One of the male monarchs had a little air fight with a tiger swallowtail who was also nectaring on the false garlic flowers. There were many varieties of butterflies around today as well as these many monarchs. Spring has sprung, but the milkweed here is still slumbering.
This is a photo of the male monarch nectaring from Indian paintbrush in the late afternoon sunlight.
Latitude: 30.4 Longitude: -95.8
Observed by: Kathy
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