Yesterday we had the good fortune to witness a Monarch butterfly stopping by our ‘Clara Curtis’ mum for a fill-up. Monarchs are on their way south now to find their winter homes and have to stop for nourishment along the way. We usually see them a couple times a year passing through looking for places to lay their eggs or just stopping by for nectar from the flowers. They love to use Aclepias purpurascens as a host plant for the larvae which is also known as purple milkweed. It grows native near us but so far we don’t have any in our garden. We do have Asclepias tuberosa or Butterfly weed which is also another viable food source for Monarch caterpillars.
Is it a Male or Female Monarch?
If you look carefully in the above picture you will notice two black dots or splotches near the back of the Monarch butterfly’s body. Those spots mean that this is a male butterfly. I learned that yesterday in a conversation on The Home Garden Facebook Page. It’s always great to get into interesting conversations!
The ‘Clara Curtis’ mums are a great last minute source of nectar for these butterflies. Gulf fritillaries and skippers have been feasting on it’s nectar for a couple weeks before the Monarch butterfly visit. Bees of all kinds have been enjoying it too. I think it has an advantage over other mums in that it is easier to reach the pollen due to the daisy-like flowers. ‘Clara Curtis’ also blooms fairly late in the growing season when many other plants have already gone to seed.