Monarch Butterfly Babies in My Garden

On her blog, this week, A Way to Garden, Margaret Roach asks where all the Monarch butterflies have gone.

I fear I must confess.  I think many of them came to my house for the dill buffet that is growing in one of my raised beds.

Monarch butterfly larvae love dill.

Dill with a side order of Monarch butterfly larvae.

I didn’t raise dill just for them.  In fact, I let my dill self seed.  This year, two big dill plants on the ends of my raised beds came and went and left a ton of seeds on their umbrels. I saved about 5o seeds so that next year, I could plant the dill where I wanted it to come up and never thought a thing about the other 500 seeds that the big plants had dropped to the ground.

Monarchs love to eat dill.

Monarch larvae side by side in my dill.

Then, about 6 weeks ago, I noticed a forest of tiny, soft dill fronds sprouting up in the ground where the old plants had been.  I thought about pulling them up but then I noticed butterflies landing on the plants and I wondered if they were laying eggs.  They were.

On this sunny, September afternoon, there are dozens and dozens of larvae, mowing down dill and contemplating when they want to pupate.   I expect to see a whole bunch of yellow-green chrysillises in the spring.

Monarch butterfly larva feasting in my dill bed.

Monarch butterfly larva in the dill.

So here, in eastern Pennsylvania, I am doing my bit to help Monarchs flourish.  I left the dill and I have planted a bed of milkweed, one of the butterfly’s favorites.  But I know that these butterflies are suffering.

So, here is Margaret Roach’s expert on Monarchs, their plight and what all of us can do to help.  precarious time for monarchs and their migration – A Way to Garden.

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3 responses to “Monarch Butterfly Babies in My Garden

  1. I LOVE butterflies and their caterpillars. So pretty! I think, though, that you’ve made a lovely home for Eastern Black Swallowtail butterfly babies, not Monarchs. Monarchs are yellow, black, and white with a ring striped pattern. These ones have the lovely black notches with green and yellow. They love dill! :)

    • Holy cats! They look a lot alike but I just noticed that if you touch my caterpillars, bright orange feathery antennae pop up. And all this time I’ve been thinking they are Monarchs….at least they’re butterflies! Thanks for setting me straight.

      • Haha, I learned the same way! They also smell funny! They do those things if they feel threatened. (As if nature lovers like us would hurt them!) No problem, and enjoy your lovely caterpillar babies. They turn into my favorite butterflies!

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