Milkweed Mama

July 24, 2017

By: Barb Holtz

My Common Milkweed is anchored right below my kitchen window. I absolutely love it when the flower perfume saunters in the window, catching me off guard as I sit reading e-mail or paying bills, doing all those not fun things in life. The scent fills every part of me. A sure reminder of something much more lasting and beautiful.

Exiting my yard gate to walk my labs, past that kitchen window, I catch a flash of orange and black. There she is, the Milkweed Mama. I'd recognize her anywhere as she dangles in air above the blooms. This time, not only sipping sweetness but tucking her abdomen on leaf underside. It's the softest touch. Deposited: one egg. One tiny minuscule egg, chosen leaf by chosen leaf.

I know it's her because she lacks the spot or vein swelling on each of her bottom wings. Her male counterpart has that - his "cologne" keeper. From this spot, he releases pheromones to entice her to him for mating. I know it's her because of familiar behaviors. The hovering, the choosing, the tucking, the clandestine depositing. The continuer of Monarch Butterfly existence...her tiny egg represents lineage and life.

This is why I plant Milkweed - Common, Swamp, Butterfly, Whorled, Sullivant's and more. For the tangible and transcendent, Milkweed must be in every garden. It should be a garden rule! Every time I pass my Milkweed patch, I search for Monarch Butterfly life cycle moments. It reminds me how lucky I am to be in this place and this time, and how much native northeast Ohio nature has to offer.

Looking for a Drink
Depositing an Egg
A Monarch in Waiting!