Bug of the Month August 2022: Monarch Butterfly

Subject: Male Monarch Butterfly visits wildflowers in the garden
Geographic location of the bug:  Campbell, Ohio
Date: 07/29/2022
Time: 11:08 AM EDT
Gentle Readers,
There are some changes happening to What’s That Bug? including Daniel finally relinquishing some of his megalomaniacal editorial control by allowing a staff to take over much of the incoming mail for identification requests because over the years Daniel has only been able to respond to a small percentage of the voluminous number of emails that pour in daily.

Monarch Butterfly and Joe Pye Weed
Monarch Butterfly and Joe Pye Weed

Daniel can now spend more time on focused postings that address the interconnectivity of all things on our fragile planet, always the mission of our ecologically minded web site.
Recently Daniel noticed an attractive pickup truck pulling a tractor parked across the street.  The truck was white and advertised “Lawn Care” and graphics of Monarch Butterflies were flying over a homogeneously green lawn. Upon speaking to the driver, Daniel learned that the neighbor’s perfectly manicured lawn was about to be sprayed with herbicide to control the weeds and fertilizer to encourage the growth of that perfect lawn.  So just why were the Monarch Butterflies on the truck?
Daniel can only surmise that the Monarchs are there to alleviate the anxieties of any potential customers who worry about the negative effects of the chemicals because clearly they are not only harmless to butterflies, but their use might even encourage butterflies to flit about on the grass.
A bit of internet research revealed that painting Monarchs on lawn care trucks is not a new idea as this web page entitled To Pimp a Butterfly illustrates.

Monarch Butterfly on Bull Thistle
Monarch Butterfly on Bull Thistle

If you want to attract Monarch Butterflies to your garden and to aid their declining populations, Daniel would strongly urge you to cease and desist using herbicides in the yard, to plant milkweed as is being promoted in many circles, but to also plant additional wildflowers that will provide nectar for the butterflies.  Milkweed is an excellent plant for providing nectar, but butterflies, including Monarchs, do not limit themselves to taking nectar from a single type of plant.  Monarch Caterpillars are not that indiscriminate.  Monarch Caterpillars feed solely on milkweed, and growing milkweed is necessary if you want the Monarchs that visit to also reproduce in your garden.  There are many wildflowers that can be planted to attract Monarchs and other butterflies, and Joe Pye Weed and Bull Thistle are two of the best.  Happy Butterfly viewing.


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