Monarch Migration Confusion

Auburn, AL

This is my first year to observe Monarch butterflies, and I need some education on the migration. Yesterday ( 9-11-15) I observed what I am pretty sure were Monarch caterpillars on some unknown milkweed plants that I planted from seeds a friend gave me. I was surprised to see them in Alabama in September, because I had understood that the fourth generation was already headed back to Mexico from the northern US and Canada. When I posted my observation to the JourneyNorth site I noticed lots of other sightings in my area in addition to my own posting at
The only thing I can figure is that some third generation adults make it no farther north than Alabama, and that these are fourth generation larvae.
I could also use some help identifying the unknown milkweed plants in the 2nd and 3rd image. Some have deep red blooms, and others have yellow blooms that are much lighter than the tuberosa I have in a nearby area. And so far none of the unknown ones have opened fully like the A.tuberosa in the 4th image.

This message was edited Sep 12, 2015 1:02 PM

Thumbnail by FarmerCharlieB Thumbnail by FarmerCharlieB Thumbnail by FarmerCharlieB Thumbnail by FarmerCharlieB
Algonquin, IL(Zone 5a)

Great pics, Charlie!
I don't know a lot yet about milkweed I.D (I'm learning), but several of the folks over on the "Daily Pictures" thread might. Some of them have been growing Milkweeds and Raising Butterflies for quite some time.

Here's that link:

If you don't want to re-type your whole post you can try posting the link to this thread, but it might not get as many responses as a whole post with pictures.

Another place to ask about Milkweed ID would be the Plant ID forum:

Good luck with the ID and your Butterflies!

Anderson, IN(Zone 6a)

I have grown enough and seen enough milkweed to know , the 2nd could be red swamp milkweed , or true Red Milkweed , The yellow form is likely one of the natives of your region .
As before , that is a rare thing to see a true yellow blooming milkweed ,
Red or Yellow milkweed in true form are rare these days ,

Auburn, AL

I thought the red one might be swamp milkweed. The caterpillars have pretty much denuded this small milkweed patch. One of the red ones is about the only one left with many leaves, and I'm afraid there's not enough food left for the caterpillars to mature. I do have some other swamp milkweed from plants I got from Monarch Watch last year and planted in a wet area by my pond. But they never bloomed, and I think aphids have pretty much eliminated them. And the tuberosa I have in a nearby area have about all lost their leaves too. I never saw any eggs or larvae on either the swamp milkweed or the tuberosa. Maybe next year I will have enough plants to do a better job hosting these beautiful creatures. And hopefully by then I will know more about the Monarch migration and life cycle.

Thumbnail by FarmerCharlieB Thumbnail by FarmerCharlieB Thumbnail by FarmerCharlieB Thumbnail by FarmerCharlieB
Anderson, IN(Zone 6a)

The yellow one ,, Savannah Milkweed ? maybe ?

Auburn, AL

The caterpillars have totally denuded the small patch of milkweed. Today I found a few remaining tuberosa that I had planted from Monarch Watch plugs last year, and I moved four of the remaining ones there (first image). I also found what I think is the one green milkweed from some Monarch Watch plugs. I'm not really sure that one is really a green milkweed (image 2), and moved one there. Finally, I found one last swamp milkweed that I had bought from Nearly Natives Nursery, and moved one there. The leaves on that one were moldy and just about gone (Image 3). I guess in the grand scheme of things, trying to save six hungry caterpillars may seem pretty silly, but having spent a couple hundred dollars and a lot of time trying to get some milkweed going, I just hate to see the poor guys starve.

Thumbnail by FarmerCharlieB Thumbnail by FarmerCharlieB Thumbnail by FarmerCharlieB
Algonquin, IL(Zone 5a)

Saving lives is never silly...especially Monarchs, which really need our help. Thanks for working so hard at it!

Anderson, IN(Zone 6a)

I would try to send you leaves but there is not much of a way for me to do that , Some people try feeding cucumbers or pumpkin to older caterpillars , they will eat that and finish ,
Make sure they are not sprayed , and if from store that the fruit is washed clean ,
Basically peel a cucumber and feed it to them From the time they are large 3rd size instars , they usually will .

Auburn, AL

Thanks for the suggestion. I'll check them in the morning. If they're still there, I'll try the cucumber. I am new to all this, and don't really know what stage they are in. Can you tell from this image? They are probably about 1 1/2 inches long.

Thumbnail by FarmerCharlieB
Anderson, IN(Zone 6a)

Their big enough to browse other food , Their big enough to be near pupate or cocoon making size , I know Chrysalis actually ,
I have seen a few that size munch or chew on other plants , Sap and water I believe after a certain size is all they have to have ,
I have seen them starve after stripping a plant bare , I have seen them browse through cucumber , beggars ticks , a few trees , as said , that size is likely moisture and sap is all they need , I do not know for sure about that , it is forever learn or educate kind of thing

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