We’ve been helping Monarch butterflies, naturally!
Did you know that for certain butterflies, such as monarchs, their caterpillars must have milkweeds as their one and only food source to depend upon?
Many of the habitats SERLC has been protecting have Climbing Milkweed growing naturally. People have been planting milkweeds to save the Monarchs, but we have our own version that comes naturally. And below is a pic of Milkweed Tussock Moth caterpillars which also survive on milkweed as its exclusive food source, on Climbing Milkweed in one of our protected lands.
A Monarch’s flight speed is apparently around 5.5 mph, which is faster than an average person walking! More facts are available at https://www.activewild.com/monarch-butterfly/ & other sources.
We noticed Gulf fritillary (Agraulis vanillae) caterpillars on one of our GA protected lands eating passionflower vine, which is its only food source. Adults can usually be found in the vicinity of passionflower vines, and the plants themselves often have several larvae per plant. Gulf fritillary caterpillars are more often found on the vines in open, full sun, and are usually found feeding on older leaves away from the tip of the vine. Another butterfly species, the zebra longwing, is also dependent on the passionflower as its sole food source. These butterflies lay their eggs in clusters at the very tip of the growing vine, and are more often found on plants that are at least partially shaded. Thus, the two species of butterflies seem to avoid direct competition by feeding on different parts of the plants, and selecting different microhabitats. What amazing survival strategies!