May 27, 2010

Monarch butterfly on the wall

Update: Thanks to Gail and Bob Morris for correcting our butterfly i.d. The butterfly pictured below is a Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui), not a monarch as previously stated. This post has been edited accordingly.
The butterfly in your photo is a painted lady, not a monarch. But please do plant milkweeds to encourage monarchs! They need our help right now. (Gail and Bob Morris)
This advice still stands: If you are trying to attract Monarch, be sure to plant milkweeds,* the monarch's larval host plants. (Check the Monarch Watch Butterfly Gardening page for larval host plants by butterfly and by plant.)

This Painted Lady on the wall only caught my attention because my gaze was at stroller height.  Sunning itself on the western side of Greenwich Street at Horatio, I am sure it has seen and heard the neighborhood's goings-on. There are few places to create significant butterfly habitat on Greenwich. There are no front yard setbacks but there are street tree beds. If enough tree beds were planted with appropriate species, Greenwich and other city streets could serve as butterfly corridors and patches.  Interested in the butterfly corridors concept?  Read about the Green Hairstreak Butterfly Corridor in San Francisco.
Garden Maker: Butterfly Habitat image courtesy of Branch


So you want to create butterfly habitat?  A good place to start is with Branch's Garden Maker: Butterfly Habitat kit.
Effortlessly create a magnificent butterfly habitat garden with this handy and attractively-packaged organic seed collection. It's the perfect way to bring beautiful and purposeful flowers to your landscape.
The kit includes eight types of seeds: Black-Eyed Susan, Borage, Butterfly Weed, Cosmos, Hollyhock, Mexican Sunflower, Purple Coneflower, and Zinna.

Two things of note.  One, About.com Insects Guide Debbie Hadley offers the following information on the Painted Lady diet:
The adult Painted Lady nectars on many plants, especially the composite flowers of the Asteraceae plant family. Favored nectar sources include thistle, aster, cosmos, blazing star, ironweed, and joe-pye weed. Painted Lady caterpillars feed on a variety of host plants, particularly thistle, mallow, and hollyhock.
Two, a word of advice from Trees NY about planting perennials in street tree beds:
Plant only when the tree in the pit is well established. The tree should be at least 6” DBH (6 inches in diameter, measured at breast height – about 41/2 feet from the ground). These long-lived plants have extensive root systems that will compete for water with newly planted trees.
* I am currently reading Tree by David Suzuki and Wayne Grady, the biography of a Douglas-fir near David Suzuki's beach cottage. I mention the book because in the section titled "Trees Fight Back" the authors write about the chemical compounds produced by plants "to enhance growth and others, called secondary compounds, that have more to do with defending the tree from invading enemies." The monarch's larval host plant, the milkweed, contains a secondary compound, "a terpene that is toxic to birds, which is why monarch butterfly larvae gorge on them; the ingested molecules act to diminish bird predation of the insect" (116).

2 comments:

  1. The butterfly in your photo is a painted lady,not a monarch. But please do plant milkweeds to encourage monarchs! They need our help right now.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thank you Gail and Bob! We've updated the post.

    ReplyDelete

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