Friday, June 25, 2010
Early Sunday morning we arrived to see three queens gently swooping up and down the milkweed laying eggs in the south meadow and the meadow near the parking lot. We watched as they found the smallest and freshest Asclepias subverticillata to lay their eggs. We walked through "Danaus crossing" and noticed a weathered, faded, shredded female monarch nectaring on Indian Hemp near the banks of the Little Colorado River. She was an easy catch in her feeble condition. We were a little in awe realizing she was likely the lady monarch who layed eggs that would be the foundation of the summer population at Wenima. We didn't know if we should even tag her, but we did (#325U) in case another female was around to tell them apart. We also tested her for O.e., a disease monarch and queen butterflies can get. After placing her back where we originally found her, she rested on the flower quite a while before flying away. (7:55 a.m., 70 degrees).
Wondering how far monarchs had moved into Arizona, we stopped at Silver Creek Fish Hatchery outside of Show Low on the way home where we saw monarchs last August. No monarchs this time. Goldenrods were about 2 feet tall with no flowers, Aslepias subverticillata about 18 inches tall with no buds yet and Aslepias Speciosia about 24 to 36 inches tall, some starting to bloom. Earilier on the way up we stopped at Sharpe Creek Campground near Christopher Creek where we found Asclepias asperula in bloom, but no signs of any larval activity or monarchs.