Monarch Caterpillars in the House!

by Donna Lewis

On Maya 4, I was so happy to discover two monarch caterpillars feeding on the milkweed a group of our Master Naturalists planted on our properties last year. This species of milkweed is Asclepias asperula, common name Antelope Horns or Spider Milkweed.

Of the twenty-four plants I received from a grant Cathy Johnson procured for us, only these few survived. Gophers tunneled under all the others and they did not regrow.

But… look what found them!  There are two monarch caterpillars munching away on them.

There were also two species of bees, a wasp, a variegated fritillary, and a hairstreak butterfly.    Everyone wanted in on the action.

Interesting was the fact that the Monarchs were eating the stems not the leaves? I do not know why that was. Something to learn about.

The main thing to take away is that while it may seem like a minor event…two more monarchs made it into our world.

So yes, we can make a difference!

Who are you gardening for?

Milkweeds and a Woodpecker

by Lisa Milewski

Milkweed Report

Members of our chapter have been participating in a Monarch Watch Milkweed Project, where we each try to grow some plants and carefully monitor them. Mine don’t seem to be growing as well as some of the others’ plants. Maybe I’m over-thinking!

I picked up the plants on May 2. They are antelope horns (Asperula).

That’s the plants, bottom left.

I planted them on May 4 in a raised bed garden (formerly my vegetable herb garden that didn’t do well since I am still learning how to get a green thumb.J  However, I left the fern leaf dill for the black swallowtail caterpillars which love them are doing well. 

The planting spot.

They are in mixed soil (1/3 compost, 1/3 peat moss, 1/3 vermiculite).

Since the planting, I have tracked the rainfall and dates I hand watered the plants. I take photos of them every week for my logbook. Here are the most recent pictures:

I’m going to try to add the grass clippings around and not water too much, maybe?  Wish me luck. 

Annie the Woodpecker

I told the people at last week’s chapter meeting about Annie the red-bellied woodpecker, who has been hanging around the food pantry in the church building in Hutto where I do a lot of my volunteer work.

We’re hoping to discourage her from pecking away at the wooden cross on the property, but not chase her away entirely. I have really enjoyed watching Annie. These pictures are taken through a dirty window, but you can see her pretty well!