March 16th, 2006
Monarch Butterfly

photo: Monarch butterfly
Monarch butterfly on Meyer lemon tree.

Ever since Sunday (3/12), half a dozen monarch butterflies have been hanging out in my yard. They like the Texas mountain laurel and Meyer lemon best. It was exciting to look out my kitchen window while washing dishes and see two or three of them flitting around the lemon tree. I don’t have Valerie’s patience or skill for insect photography and am not pleased with any of my shots. Unlike flowers, butterflies don’t hold still for the camera.

Monarch butterflies migrate through Austin in the fall on their way to their winter homes in Mexico. Several of my neighbors in north Austin see them regularly each fall, but I rarely do. Does the migrating horde avoid downtown? or is it just me?

Unfortunately I don’t have any milkweed planted.

by M Sinclair Stevens

4 Responses to post “Monarch Butterfly”

  1. From Judith:

    I think your photo is lovely. It is ‘Catch 22’ from my point of view as well when I visit your garden. I compare and contrast your plants to what I can grow in New England. You are so far ahead of us. Butterflies. We won’t see Monarchs for quite a few months. Enjoy. (P. I wish I could grow the Meyer lemon tree–looks like a great plant–does it have a lemon scent?)

    Judith, the Meyer lemon has a wonderful intense scent. The bees were all over it and I thought of you and your bees. Wouldn’t Meyer lemon honey be yummy? I grow mine in a pot so that I can bring it indoors during a freeze. This winter was so unusually mild, I had to bring it in just a couple of night. — mss

  2. From Annie in Austin:

    There have been lots of swallowtails in NW Austin, but no Monarchs around yet.

    I had wondered whether the Meyeri lemons could be grown in the garden. Since your part of Austin is more moderate than our area, we’d surely have to take it in here.

    In an extended cold spell, could one keep the lemon in a garage like plumeria, or do they need a window inside the house?

    Annie, I usually get swallowtails instead of monarchs. So the monarchs were a treat. They’re gone, today. Maybe they’ve worked their way up to your neighborhood. The lemon tre. likes sun. One year we kept it in the front room and decorated it as our Christmas tree. Wow, it was a bit smaller two years ago. However, it is still in the same pot. I read somewhere that if you keep it in a small pot, it will stay small. I don’t know if that’s true, but I’m experimenting with the concept. — mss

  3. From Pam Penick (Austin):

    We’ve seen several Monarchs visiting the Texas mountain laurel over the last couple of weeks (central Austin). Yesterday we saw a tiger swallowtail. My daughter raised some painted ladies from caterpillars and released them 2 weeks ago, but we haven’t seen them since.

  4. From Annie in Austin:

    That darling tree looks like it would be worth the trouble. Duh!! I didn’t realize it made real lemons – for some reason it was classified as solely ornamental in my mind.

    Better and better!

    Annie