We had a deer in our yard early in the spring, and I thought it was really cool, taking lots of photos and watching it for about an hour... watching it munch on our tulips, yew shrubs and other good plants. The more it ate the more it started losing its appeal. Nature is great, but sometimes hard to balance in a backyard. You can't put protective material over and around everything! I understand a deer can consume an entire hosta at one sitting!
As a houseplant and gardening person, I usually try to prevent insects and especially want them off my plants. Getting into this monarch thing was a strange twist, as the goal was to find eggs and caterpillars and grow plants for them to eat! It was an easy adjustment, as they only eat the milkweeds and most milkweed bugs don't bother the other garden plants. Then the interest in milkweed grew, and I have collections of different species. It is a problem when new seedlings start to get munched! Kinda hard to train the monarchs which plants to lay eggs on and which ones not to. I have this special swamp milkweed that I grew from seeds of an extremeliy dark, attractive variety that is found in an area about 2 hours away from home. I want to get good photos when it blooms. Wouldn't you know it, this was the first plant in the yard that a monarch laid eggs on this spring. Brenda wanted to pick off the leaves and I didn't want the plant stripped of leaves as I wanted the good photo. We agreed to leave them alone on the plant, and remove any tiny caterpillars. They were all eaten! My plant was safe for a while, and it also proved how few caterpillars survive when left to nature. We release hundreds of butterflies each year now, and that must help, considering how many people are also raising and releasing monarchs.
I have read reports of monarchs in NJ and in particular around Lake Hoptacong (is that near you?). I still remember the great boat tour we had on that lake when down to a monarch workshop (between Sparta and Dover) a couple years ago.
John Beaulieu & Brenda Stride
Midhurst, Ontario CANADA
MONARCH WAYSTATION NO. 553