Jul 18 2010

Kings and Queens in Marcy’s Garden

Published by at 7:45 am under Insects, Fish, Frogs

Yesterday I visited Marcy Cunkelman in Indiana County and toured her beautiful garden.   

Her whole yard is planted for nature, especially birds and butterflies.  She uses all natural fertilizer and balances the plants for pest control.  No chemicals in her yard!  They would kill the very insects she is trying to attract.

Did you know butterflies are picky about where they lay their eggs?  They choose the plants their caterpillar larvae like to eat. 

Marcy knows which plants host the various butterflies and cultivates them to attract the species she desires.  Her favorite is the monarch butterfly whose host plant is the milkweed.  Her garden has lots of it and many nectar plants for the butterflies to feed on.

Marcy fosters monarchs and tags them in late summer before they migrate.  Every day she checks the undersides of the milkweed leaves to see if monarchs have laid eggs there.  She knows from experience that female monarchs prefer tender young leaves.  When the plants bloom, the leaves are too tough though the flowers provide a good nectar source.  

What a great place to be a butterfly: food and drink, meet and greet, mate and lay eggs.   

Marcy’s garden is a posh resort for butterflies.  The monarchs are its kings and queens.

(photo of a monarch butterfly on a thistle by Marcy Cunkelman)

4 responses so far

4 Responses to “Kings and Queens in Marcy’s Garden”

  1. Patsyon 18 Jul 2010 at 9:06 am

    Thank you for the information about the milkweed leaves. I have planted some in one of my raised beds, but am not sure exactly what I should be looking for regarding the larvae. Have seen some very tiny little white worms, or so I thought, on the undersides of the leaves sometimes, but was not sure they were the eggs. When the flower blooms it is very fragrant, and I had assumed that was the draw. Will have to start looking earlier. If Marcy would post some additional names of plants and flowers she has, I would appreciate. I have also planted some Joe Pye Weed, and do have some thistle growing.

  2. Kate St. Johnon 18 Jul 2010 at 9:09 am

    Patsy, here’s a website showing the stages of a monarch butterfly from egg to butterfly. The egg is very small & white. The caterpillars are yellow/white/black striped. Very cool.

  3. Patsyon 18 Jul 2010 at 9:59 am

    Thank you.

  4. Anne Curtison 20 Jul 2010 at 12:24 am

    We’ve had some Tiger Swallow-tails here on Unger Lane, and Sat I saw a solitary Buckeye, flitting close to the ground.

    It’s nothing I’ve done. I think our neighbor’s unkempt yard, full of flowering weeds, attracts them! Although it’s very ugly, I feel less unkindly toward him when I see the butterflies and fireflies!

    How many negatives was that before I could find a positive?!


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