Most of the plants look haggard, except for the Lantanas that thrive in these warm conditions. The Milkweed plants have been decimated by Monarch caterpillars and there is no more food for any newly hatching critters. I still see female Monarchs laying eggs on these plants, but there will be little, if any food to sustain them. Right now, the Oleander aphids and Milkweed bugs are able to eke out an existence on the once foliaceous, floriferous and frebocious Milkweed plants.
On a side note regarding our Monarch cats, I was able to collect over 75 live, squirming caterpillars that were donated to a lady who said she can find homes at various locations for them. One place she mentioned was at the Thomas F. Riley Wilderness Park. It hosts a butterfly garden planted with natives that attract and harbor butterflies, plus there is wild Milkweed growing in the surrounding meadow areas.
The recent absence of the various Swallowtail butterflies has been a mystery to me and for a couple of other like-minded souls. Fear not: as of last week, I've noticed them returning to the hilltops.
Great news! While looking for Monarch cats last week, I spotted what I'm sure is a Black Swallowtail caterpillar engorging itself on the patch of Rue growing directly below the garden signs. Common Rue is one of the host plants for the Black Swallowtail. This Swallowtail is not very common in this area, as it is more popular in Central California. The Rue was planted to attract the Black Swallowtail, Giant Swallowtail and our resident Anise Swallowtail butterflies. If it is a Black Swallowtail - which I'm almost positive it is from the looks of the cat, we can now say we have another Swallowtail species visiting the garden.
Under the Sycamores: Meet the Monarchs is being held at the Aliso and Woods Canyon Ranger Station on September 1. Looks to be a fun venue for families and kids. Kids are not requisite. Come on now, who doesn't harbor a little kid inside of them? Mine pops out almost every time I stand in front of a mirror.
The Monarch Program located in Encinitas sports a large vivarium where one can walk into to meet the various local butterfly species firsthand. I wouldn't call it a "destination place", but rather an adjunct to some other activity you may have when traveling through Encinitas. It really is a worthwhile stop for both children and adults. The best time to visit is from late spring thru mid fall.