Raising Monarch Butterflies

We have inadvertently discovered how to create a monarch nursery: mow an overgrown field that has some established milkweed in it. Six weeks ago, Bill took the old beater mower and leveled a 20 by 10 foot section right down to the dead thatch. The spot looked to be mostly full of goldenrod and blackberries , but there was also a good bit of milkweed – which of course means a ton of milkweed roots. As soon as we cleared out the competition, a forest of baby milkweed rose up, much faster off the mark than the blackberries (though they will win in the end). Almost every one of those tender young milkweeds has played host to a monarch caterpillar – or two or even three. We checked the tall, tough plants in the unmowed field: nada.

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