Ninety-nine thank yous to Nancy Lutts of Salem who responded to my plea for Monarch butterfly eggs. She follows both my blog and Good Morning Gloucester and emailed immediately after reading the posts. Nancy has the most amazing farm and fields located along the Danvers River. She and her family have been farming the land for decades. Nancy invited me to come and collect eggs. She had come to one of my lectures, but you hardly get to actually know people at the programs so it was a delight to meet her and super fun to peruse her fields for eggs while chatting and sharing butterfly info.
Interestingly, Nancy’s plow wasn’t working as well as usual, so the mowing of her fields, which usually takes place in early summer, happened later than usual. Good thing! The two-inch tall emerging milkweed shoots were the female’s preference. This goes to a topic that is often brought up in the lectures that I give and one of the most frequently asked questions, “What is the best time of year to plow my fields?” I recommend plowing in early fall, well after the monarchs have emerged from their chrysalides and headed to Mexico. Although, the very, very best practice for the pollinators is to mow half a field annually, alternating from one side of the field to the other every other year. This allows for the pollinators to complete their life cycle within a two year time frame. The single greatest threat to Monarchs, as well as all bees and butterflies, is habitat destruction in the United States, whether it be from Monsanto’s Roundup or from mismanagement and loss of fields and meadows.