I was out watering, and doing a minimal gardening job as record heat is expected today, when I spotted my first Monarch Butterfly! If you haven’t yet seen my Monarch episode of episode of “Late Bloomer,” please check it out!

Female Monarch Butterfly

Female Monarch Butterfly

After my visit with Loree Bryer, citizen scientist for the Monarch, I planted three Tropical milkweed, three California native Fascicularis, and one Cinderella Butterfly milkweed. The tropical and butterfly weed stopped blooming a week after I put them in, so I did not expect Monarchs to find me this year. But, today, a female appeared!

Female Monarch Butterfly Landing on Tropical Milkweed

Female Monarch Butterfly Landing on Tropical Milkweed

When it was clear she knew exactly where my milkweed was located, I ran for the camera as she started laying eggs. She visited every adult plant. She deposited eggs on each one. She hangs on while she curves her body to lay the egg.

Female Monarch Butterfly Laying Egg on Butterfly Weed

Female Monarch Butterfly Laying Egg on Butterfly Weed

I tried looking for the eggs. I didn’t imagine my scrawny plants had been visited before, but what did I find? Four tiny Monarch caterpillars! The female lays a single egg on a different leaf.

Monarch Caterpillar First Instar

Monarch Caterpillar First Instar Stage

And an egg! It’s not just a white blob. The detail is amazing.

Monarch Butterfly Egg on Tropical Milkweed

Monarch Butterfly Egg on Tropical Milkweed Leaf

For scale, here is a shot with my fingertip. You really have to look closely to find these, usually on the back of milkweed leaves, but, they can also be on the flowers. When the caterpillars hatch, they eat the egg shell, then the leaf and work their way down the plant.

Monarch Butterfly Egg on Tropical Milkweed by Kaye Kittrell

Monarch Butterfly Egg on Tropical Milkweed

I also found some aphids on another plant! Up close, they look quite forbidding! Hopefully, they will leave the Monarch eggs alone and not eat too many of my dwindling number of leaves.

Orange Aphids and Larvae on Tropical Milkweed Leaf

Orange Aphids and Larvae on Tropical Milkweed Leaf

Just so the Monarch didn’t steal the show, the Gulf Fritillary Butterfly reappeared and monopolized the Mexican Sunflower blooms.

Gulf Fritillary Butterfly on Mexican Sunflower Wings Closed

Gulf Fritillary Butterfly on Mexican Sunflower Wings Closed

Gulf Fritillary Butterfly on Mexican Sunflower Wings Open

Gulf Fritillary Butterfly on Mexican Sunflower Wings Open

An exciting morning of color and discovery. Have you found Monarchs in your garden? What other butterflies have you seen? Thanks for stopping by! – Kaye