- Author: Denise Godbout-Avant
- Egg: The female Monarch lays her eggs on their sole host plant, the milkweed (Asclepias). She generally lays one egg per plant. Each egg is about the size of a grain of salt.
- Larva (Caterpillar): After 3 – 5 days, the Monarch egg hatches to a larva, also called a caterpillar, eating only milkweed leaves. They go through five instar stages over a period of 10 – 14 days as they grow from 1/16th of an inch to about two inches, molting their exoskeleton at each stage.
- Pupa: The caterpillar finds a protected place to develop its chrysalis for the pupal stage. During the next 11-15 days the pupa will change to an adult by liquifying its body while inside the chrysalis, ultimately emerging to the adult butterfly.
- Adult: In the final hours before emergence, the chrysalis becomes translucent, a crack will appear, with the Monarch butterfly freeing itself from the case. Hanging from the now-empty chrysalis case, it will spend the next few hours pumping fluid into its wings until they are firm enough to fly. Eventually it will take flight and start seeking out nectar for its 1st meal. Adult Monarch butterflies feed on flowers, which makes them pollinators. The nectar provides energy for flight, mating, and migration.
The Monarch migration is extraordinary with none quite like it in the butterfly world. A Monarch butterfly begins an epic one-way journey south up to 2,800 miles to a specific place where they have never been to before, where their great-grandparent spent the previous winter. It remains largely a mystery how successive generations know the route and where to spend the winter months.
Late in summer or early fall, a final generation emerges. Triggered by changes in temperature and sunlight, this generation will migrate south. Known as the “Methuselah” generation (after the biblical patriarch said to have lived 969 years), they can live up to 6 – 8 months. They do not emerge as sexually mature butterflies, being in a “sexual diapause,” so their energies can be focused on developing flight muscles and storing lipids for their long journey south and surviving the winter months.
Come spring, with warming temperatures and longer days, these butterflies will become sexually mature, feed on nectar, mate, and start moving northward, laying eggs, which will hatch to continue the annual migration cycle.
You may see migrating Monarchs this fall in your garden feeding on nectar flowers, resting on flat flowers or rocks, or drinking from water sources. Admire them, but leave them be, since they still have some distance to go to reach their wintering grounds. In California, their wintering spots are along coastal areas from Monterey area (Pacific Grove) to San Diego.
Monarchs in Trouble
In temperate areas like the Central Valley, the tropical milkweed plant (Asclepias currasavica) does not go dormant. A parasite that lives on the plant is ingested by developing caterpillars and is linked lower migration success and reductions in lifespan. Choose milkweed species that goes through winter dormancy such as narrowleaf milkweed and showy milkweed (A. fasicularis and speciosa.)
The IUCN announcement states: "The western population is at greatest risk of extinction, having declined by an estimated 99.9%, from as many as 10 million to 1,914 butterflies between the 1980s and 2021.” In addition, "The larger eastern population also shrunk by 84% from 1996 to 2014. Concern remains as to whether enough butterflies survive to maintain the populations and prevent extinction."
Sign up for our Free Class!
Date: Saturday, October 15, 2022
Time: 9:00 am – 10:30 am
Where: Stanislaus Agricultural Center, 1800 Cornucopia Way, Harvest Hall
- Art Shapiro's Butterfly Site https://butterfly.ucdavis.edu/butterflies
- Butterflies in Your Garden https://ucanr.edu/sites/CEStanislausCo/files/345791.pdf
- Xerces Society - Pollinator Plants: California https://xerces.org/publications/plant-lists/pollinator-plants-California
- UC Davis Arboretum – Larval Hosts for Butterflies https://arboretum.ucdavis.edu/blog/larval-host-plants-butterflies
- California Native Plant Society – Native Planting Guides https://www.cnps.org/gardening/choosing-your-plants/native-planting-guides
- Tropical Milkweed - a no grow https://xerces.org/blog/tropical-milkweed-a-no-grow
- Calscape CA native plants https://www.calscape.org/
- UC ANR Bug Squad Blog https://ucanr.edu/blogs/bugsquad/
- International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) https://www.iucn.org/
- The Monarch: Saving Our Most Beloved Butterfly, by Kylee Baumle, St. Lynn's PressMilkweed Poisoning: https://www.poison.org/articles/milkweed-can-cause-serious-poisoning-204
- Author: Anne Schellman
July Library Branch Schedule
- Monday, July 11, 2022 at 6:00 p.m. Water Wise Landscaping - Ceres
- Tuesday, July 12, 2022 at 6:00 p.m. - Water Wise Landscaping - Salida
- Wednesday, July 13, 2022 at 6:00 p.m. - Water Wise Landscaping – Riverbank
- Tuesday, July 19, 2022 at 6:00 p.m. Water Wise Landscaping – Oakdale
- Monday, July 25, 2022 at 6:15 p.m. Water Thrifty Landscaping– Modesto
- Wednesday, July 27, 2022 at 6:00 p.m. Water Wise Gardening - Turlock*
Water Thrifty Landscaping: Want to make your garden more water wise? This class will teach you how to use less water, and includes detailed tips on how to install a drip irrigation system.
Water Wise Landscaping: Learn simple changes to help save water, and discover colorful, low-water use plants that thrive in our area.
Contact your local library branch to find out more. Missed a class you wanted to take? Look for it at another library branch in the future.
*we apologize last month's June newsletter, an incorrect time was listed.
Where: Stanislaus County Agricultural Center, Harvest Hall, OUTDOORS. 3800 Cornucopia Way, Modesto, CA 95358
When: Tuesday, June 14, 2022
Time: 6:00-7:30 p.m.
Instructors: Master Gardeners Tim Long and Roxanne Campbell
Sign up online at http://ucanr.edu/thrifty/2022 or call the office at (209) 525-6800 to reserve your space.
- Author: Anne Schellman
- Called or visited the Stanislaus County UC Cooperative Extension Master Gardener Help Line and gotten information on what to do about a pest or gardening problem.
- Learned something new from a class at the Stanislaus Ag Center, Community Garden, Garden Club, Senior Center, local library or one of our online Zoom classes.
- Attended the Pollinator Garden Event last month, or a Farmers Market booth or the Stanislaus County Fair and spoken with a Master Gardener.
- Read our newsletter and gained helpful gardening and pest management information.
If you would like to give back to our program, you can visit this website http://donate.ucanr.edu/givingday. Click “GIVE” on the upper right of the fund and choose “Stanislaus County.” Once you do this, the icon for the Master Gardener program will appear. Choose this icon and then make your desired donation. We are a 501 c3 organization, so your donation is tax deductible.
Prize Challenge Awards
Online gifts made between noon on May 19 and 11:59 a.m. on May 20 may help programs qualify for prize challenge awards! Donations can be made at http://donate.ucanr.edu/givingday.
If you prefer sending a check instead of donating online, please make checks payable to “UC Regents” and specify “Stanislaus County Master Gardener Program” in the check memo. Then mail to: UC ANR Gift Processing, 2801 Second Street, Davis, CA 95618.
In addition to helping our program create our public demonstration gardens, your donation helps us grow our program by purchasing materials needed for outreach and education. We thank you for your support!
- Author: Denise Godbout-Avant
sake of his children and his children's children, who are to sit beneath the shadow of their spreading boughs.”
Author: Hyacinthe Loyson
I love to wander among trees, to see and hear the leaves swaying in the breeze, observe birds darting about the branches, squirrels running up and down the trunk, and insects flitting about. I have spent many contented hours sitting under a tree reading a good book. Trees mark the seasons of our lives, blooming in the spring before producing green leaves, producing fruits or nuts in the summer, changing colors in the fall, and stand bare and stark during the winter months. I particularly love the Valley Oak tree (Quercus lobata) with its distinctive lobed leaves, the acorns it yields, the fascinating oak galls produced by tiny wasps, and their historical importance to the original people of California as a staple food source.
Along with 50 countries around the world, the USA celebrates trees on Arbor Day. The day is celebrated during the spring tree planting season. In the USA, the date is typically the last Friday of April, which this year is Friday, April 29th. The date varies around the world depending on geography, weather, and if in the Northern or Southern Hemisphere.
But why do we commemorate trees and how did Arbor Day get started?
Benefits of Trees
From the beginning, trees have provided us with the oxygen we breathe, along with food, shelter, medicine, and tools. To list a few of their other benefits:
- Trees help combat climate change – Trees absorb carbon dioxide (CO2), which is contributing to global warming. They remove the CO2 from the air and store the carbon. In one year, an acre of trees can absorb the same amount of CO2 produced when the average car is driven 26,000 miles.
- Trees clean the air – Trees absorb odors and pollutant gases such as nitrogen oxides, ammonia, sulfur dioxide and ozone and filter particulates out of the air by trapping them on their leaves and bark.
- Trees provide habitat for wildlife – Sycamores and oaks are among numerous trees that provide homes for many species of birds, mammals, insects, amphibians, and reptiles.
- Trees cool cities – Trees deflect the sunlight, cooling the air up to 10°F by shading our homes, buildings, and roads.
- Trees prevent soil erosion – Trees reduce water runoff by allowing the rainwater to flow down the trunk, onto the earth below. Their roots also slow runoff and hold the soil in place.
- Trees provide wood and paper – Trees help us build our homes and the paper we write on.
- Trees beautify urban spaces – Trees can mask unsightly concrete walls, parking lots, and unsightly views. They help muffle the sounds of the city and create eye-soothing canopies of green. They absorb dust and reduce glare.
- Trees provide personal and spiritual values – During our busy lives, trees can give us a piece of nature and moments of tranquility.
Arbor Day History
The tradition quickly spread and within 20 years the day was celebrated in every state but Delaware. On April 15, 1907, President Theodore Roosevelt, a conservation supporter, issued an “Arbor Day Proclamation to the School Children of the United States.” In 1970, Arbor Day became nationally recognized due to efforts by President Richard Nixon.
People can celebrate Arbor Day by planting a tree (which can be dedicated to a loved one) and spending time caring for the trees we have. Morton's words resonate strongly today as climate change becomes a serious threat: “Other holidays repose on the past: Arbor Day proposes for the future.”
How Can We Help?
- To reduce the demand for paper, check out books from your local Stanislaus County Library instead of purchasing new ones.
- Help protect existing forests – Encourage reduced cutting down of healthy forests by supporting sustainable reforestation.
- Afforestation – Support the planting of new forest plantations, which can enhance existing forest cover and help reduce global warming with carbon sequestration.
- Continue to water your tree, even during a drought. If you shut off lawn water, don't forget to deep water your tree! You can use a hose or soaker hose to water under the drip line.
- And, of course, plant a tree! You can volunteer for local organizations when they have tree planting days or plant a tree in your garden.
An excellent resource on care and selection of trees is Stanislaus County's Master Gardener “Trees in Your Home Garden,” https://ucanr.edu/sites/CEStanislausCo/files/341553.pdf
You can learn more about trees from the National Arbor Day Foundation at https://www.arborday.org/trees/treefacts/
Do you have a favorite tree? Write in our comment section what your favorite tree is and why?!