Tag Archives: monarch butterflies

Monarch caterpillars are eating all the milkweed!

Did you know?

There are three sites in San Diego County where monarch butterflies overwinter, one in Grape Street Park in Balboa Park,  one in Presidio Park in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park, and one at the University of California San Diego Coast Site on Azul Street.

Surprisingly I have not been to any of them. Next winter….

Meanwhile, though, over at the Botanic Building in Balboa Park, there are two huge milkweed bushes at the entrances to the building. Monarchs, of course, love milkweed. On March 24, the bushes were full of monarch caterpillars, six just in this one picture:

Monarch butterfly caterpillars

By now those caterpillars probably have eaten every leaf on the plants and are nice and comfortable in their chrysalises. Here’s a fresh chrysalis from last year:

Chrysalis of a Monarch butterfly

As the chrysalises age, they turn brown.

Monarch caterpillar chrysalis, September 2011, San Diego

By Memorial Day the bushes will be full of monarch butterflies, flittering all about. Another picture from last year:

Monarch butterfly

Now, let’s learn how to tell the difference between a male monarch and a female.

Male monarchs have a black spot near the rear of each wing. Females don’t.

Here are two pictures to illustrate. The first picture is a male, the second a female. See the black spots on the male’s wings?

Monarch

Monarch

Thanks for stopping by! See you next time!

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This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

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Monarch butterfly in San Diego

National Butterfly Awareness Day is Saturday, June 1

curtains coming soon

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Saturday, June 1, is National Butterfly Awareness Day.

There are 265 species of butterflies that call California home. The queen of these butterflies is the monarch (Danaus plexippus) .

Monarch

Monarch

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Monarch caterpillars, September 2011, San Diego

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Monarch caterpillar chrysalis, September 2011, San Diego

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I caught a little wormy
A-crawlin’ up a tree.
He wiggled here
He wiggled there
He wiggled right at me.
I put him in a shoebox
And told him “Stay right there.”
But when I opened up the box
A butterfly was there.
I don’t know how it happened
I couldn’t if I tried
‘Cause only Mother Nature
Can make a butterfly.
(Author unknown)

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I just discovered that up in Encinitas, at 450 Ocean View Avenue, is The Monarch Program.

Location of The Monarch Program in Encinitas

View Larger Map

That’s where I’m going on Saturday! They have a 1200-square foot vivarium there. And they’ve been there since 1990! I never knew!

If you happen to be in Balboa Park, check out the two large milkweed plants at the two entrances to the Botanic Building. Monarch butterflies love milkweeds, even needing them for their mere survival, and there are always a couple of butterflies, some caterpillars, and some chrysalises on the bushes. That’s where the second and third pictures above and the final two pictures were taken.

Trivia:

It wasn’t until 1975 that scientists discovered the overwintering sites in central Mexico. At that time, they found a butterfly that had been tagged in Ontario, Canada. There are about 210 overwintering sites in California, with the main one being Pacific Grove, which has taken on the moniker Butterfly Town USA.

The monarch butterfly is the official insect or butterfly for Alabama, Idaho, Illinois, Minnesota, Texas, Vermont, and West Virginia.

There are three overwintering sites in San Diego County: Grape Street Park in Balboa Park, Presidio Park in Old Town, and the UCSD Coast Site on Azul Street. The best time to see these overwintering monarchs is in November, December, and January.

Milkweed flower

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Monarch butterfly

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I’m Zoey the Cool Cat,
and I approve this post!Zoey the Cool Cat

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Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos