Monarch butterflies make a stop in Vinton

Published: Aug. 19, 2020 at 6:18 PM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - Butterflies are amazing to watch and Bob Siren, a horticulturist in Vinton, is encouraging everyone to plant a butterfly garden. Siren says if you go into your yard you may see a Yellow Swallowtail. These yellow and black butterflies are the most common butterfly in our yards. You may also spot an Eastern Swallowtail, which is a large butterfly with beautiful blue hues.

There is a unique butterfly that comes through our gardens called the Monarch and Siren calls these the “king of the skies”.

Siren works at Power Landscaping in Vinton. One day, while he was out watering plants, a Monarch flew in front of him and he followed her path to a milkweed. “She literally just went straight down to the plants and laid one egg at a time. They can lay upward of 500 eggs, but if they don’t have enough milkweed they may not be able to lay all their eggs,” said Siren.

Siren says it is thought that less than 10 percent, some say even less than five percent, of eggs will make it to maturity. Siren says that is why he decided to take the milkweed and the eggs and enclose them for safety. “As soon as I saw the caterpillars, so did a lot of the predators. Things like predatory wasps, like the paper wasp.”

Carroll Worrell was also experiencing a similar situation with her milkweed. “I never thought that caterpillars would make me so happy. I’m down there at 6:30 in the morning, walking my dog, yelling at my husband to come look at caterpillars. So, yes I was very excited!”

Worrell took her milkweed plants filled with eggs and caterpillars to Siren. The two were fascinated to capture the life cycle of these Monarchs.

Milkweed is the only plant Monarch Butterflies can lay eggs on. “Egg is laid, egg turns into a caterpillar, caterpillar goes into stages and gets larger, then it goes into chrysalis. Once it goes to chrysalis for two weeks, it will emerge as a butterfly and then it will start moving north again,” explains Siren.

Monarch Butterflies are orange and black. These butterflies are a migrating species. It starts migration in Mexico and journey’s northward following milkweed. The delicate Monarch travels nearly 2,000 miles!

As much as Siren and Worrell enjoyed watching the process of the Monarchs, they were both excited to release them once they were ready.

If you’d like to plant a butterfly garden, you can visit Bob Siren at Powers Landscaping and Irrigation at 2955 E. Washington Ave. Vinton, VA 24179 or call (540) 890-9051.

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