As the sun rises over Lake Tsala Apopka its first light shines into my bedroom. A mockingbird calls from a distant rooftop and a cardinal joins in, then a mourning dove and a Carolina wren. I awaken, grab a cup of coffee and a bowl of cereal and sit in the Florida room eating my breakfast as the birds grab their breakfast from our backyard feeder.
Out of the corner of my eye I see a flash of orange and turn my attention to it. It’s a monarch butterfly. It flaps its wings a few times rising in the air then floats down like a feather and lands on a milkweed plant. I watch intently as it holds onto a leaf with its six legs and bends its abdomen around and under to deposit a single egg on the underside of the leaf. It rises with a couple flutters and again floats down onto another leaf and repeats the process laying another egg. This insect of tissue wings ascends again, then lands on a cluster of milkweed flowers. It walks a bit on the cluster before it unrolls a straw-like appendage from its mouth and pushes it down into the center of a single flower sipping its sweet nectar. After ten minutes of laying eggs and having breakfast with me and the birds, it flies away.
Anne and I check the leaves to see if we can find the eggs it laid. It takes some time, but we find a single egg on the bottom of a leaf. It looks like a barrel cactus without its thorns, tiny, delicate, yet stuck well on the leaf. Anne is elated because she planted the milkweeds to increase their opportunities to reproduce. We look forward to seeing the beautiful caterpillars emerge from the eggs to continue the life cycle of this precious butterfly.