PebbleCreek’s Monarch Waystation

Monarch caterpillar (photo by Priscilla Wardlow)

Susan Knox Wilson

PebbleCreek Golf Resort is crawling with monarchs—literally! Monarch caterpillars that is.

This year we had the most caterpillars ever seen at our Monarch Waystation in front of the Activities Office. Female monarch butterflies lay their eggs on the milkweed planted there—where the leaves provide shelter for the eggs and the plant provides the only food the babies will eat. It takes about four days for the eggs to hatch into baby caterpillars (also called larvae). Then the baby caterpillar doesn’t do much except to eat the milkweed and grow. In fact, the larva is an eating machine—growing about 2,700 times its birth weight in two or three weeks. If a human baby grew in a similar manner, it would weigh 17,637 pounds when two weeks old! When the caterpillar is fully-grown, it will find a place to attach itself and start the process of metamorphosis—turning into a butterfly.

Monarch Watch, the worldwide nonprofit network of researchers, volunteers, teachers, and students dedicated to the study of the monarch butterfly, certified PebbleCreek Golf Resort as an official Monarch Waystation in 2017. PebbleCreek was the first golf resort in the Phoenix area to earn Waystation certification and was just the second in the entire state.

The monarch butterfly, one of the most recognizable species in North America, is threatened by habitat loss and Monarch Waystations, like the one here in PebbleCreek, are places that provide the resources necessary for the monarchs to produce successive generations.