With warming temperatures climbing to the mid-70's for the next week we will hopefully see more butterfly activity. Check out the activity we saw at Rio Salado Habitat Restoration Area in Phoenix yesterday:
We've had a cool December in the Phoenix area and many people are still reporting monarch larvae, pupae and adults around town in Paradise Valley, Phoenix, Scottsdale, Chandler, Mesa and Ahwatukee. Monarchs are tropical by nature and are affected by freezing temperatures. Unless we have a hard freeze there is a chance some of these monarchs may survive our winter this year. (The National Weather Service Winter Outlook gives a glimpse of the next few months in Arizona.) It's a good idea to keep some of the favorite nectar plants of monarchs around to encourage them to visit your yard on warm, sunny days. Besides lantana and verbena which can look a bit cold stressed this time of year, look for some of these nectar favorites still available in local nurseries:
(Monarchs are picky about lavenders - this is the only lavender we see them use for nectar.)
Marigolds, Tagetes spp.
Baja Fairy Duster, Calliandra californica
Calendulas, Calendula spp.