Monarch Butterfly

Danaus plexippus

The Monarch is a showy, migratory butterfly that is dependent on milkweed as a larval food source. Unfortunately, populations are in serious decline. We saw fewer adult Monarchs in 2013 than any previous year.bio_monarch_butterfly

Monarch reproduction relies on milkweed, which, as its name implies, is a bit of a weed. However, we tolerate a moderate amount of it growing in our vegetable field because it has showy flowers, attracts adult butterflies, and is a host to Monarch caterpillars (below). Its deep roots plus our no-till methods together mean that milkweed comes back year after year in our fields.bio_monarch_caterpillar

After their larval life stage, Monarchs form a chrysalis, though not necessarily on the milkweed plant itself. One larvae traveled to a nearby Amish Salad tomato plant to pupate. (Clearly, Monarch reproduction is compatible with responsible agriculture.) An observant worker noticed this,  and we brought it indoors to observe. No adult emerged from this particular chrysalis, and we suspect that the chrysalis was parasitized.bio_monarch_chrysalis