If you've been hanging around Monarch Watch and Journey North, you know monarch butterflies are ahead of their annual migration, and well ahead of milkweed growth. Some of the images at Journey North show dozens of eggs on milkweed only a few inches tall. Not good.
Warm temps and strong south winds have coaxed the butterflies north at a rapid pace. Chip Taylor, the director of Monarch Watch in Kansas, says that unless temps stay warm, populations will suffer. Obviously, cooler temps (above freezing) will slow down caterpillar growth, but a freeze would be deadly.
I've started milkweed in my house for the first time ever, heat mat and everything, and hope they make it (new to the nuances of starting plants). I do have swamp milkweed and common milkweed poking up outside, and since the monarchs are on the KS / NE border, it's none too soon. Usually, we don't see butterflies until Mid May, but it looks like it could be later this week or early next.