Any Monarch sitings?

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by primroselane, Oct 11, 2004.

  1. primroselane

    primroselane Well-Known Member

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    The Associated Press

    BURLINGTON, Vt. Oct. 11, 2004 — Experts say few migrating monarch butterflies are being spotted in Vermont this year where once they were common autumn sights.

    "Probably the worst year in a decade," said Kent McFarland, a conservation biologist at the Vermont Institute of Natural Science. "I went to some of my favorite spots, and I've seen maybe two in Vermont this entire season."

    Gordon Nielsen of Hinesburg, who has studied insects, backed up the observation: "I haven't seen that many this year."

    Hundreds of miles south, in Cape May, N.J., volunteers are putting numbers to the Vermonters' hunch. They watch the skies for hours to count the migratory butterflies and in the waning days of the annual movement, they have noted just a fraction of the numbers from past year.

    Monarch butterflies annually migrate from the maritime provinces, northern Canada and the northern United States to the mountains of western Mexico, where they spend the winter. They return north in the spring, though the generations breed, deposit eggs and die en route. The younger generation completes the northbound journey.

    In 1999 and this year, monarch butterflies tagged with tiny tracking devices in Vermont were found in Mexico.

    The southbound butterflies rely on an autumn abundance of milkweed to eat during their trip, McFarland said. The weed has been in excellent supply in Vermont this season, but with the first killing frost already coating many pockets of the state, that essential source of food is drying up.
     
  2. countrygrrrl

    countrygrrrl PITA

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    I had monarchs this year, first time ever. It was a week or so ago --- I've been carefully nurturing a mildly invasive plant the last year or so --- a wild poinsettia --- and for a day or so, I had monarchs all over it. :)

    I just checked a migratory map and this here is actually close to or in their usual trail --- however, this is the first time I've ever had them. It was pretty cool. And goes to show that some invasive plants are actually good for something (the honeybees and hummingbirds also love the wild poinsettia).
     

  3. Shygal

    Shygal Unreality star Supporter

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    I'm in Vermont , and I saw ONE Monarch all year :(
     
  4. john#4

    john#4 Well-Known Member

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    Where I am in Vt. I usually see maybe 40 50. This year I have seen none. A shame, we may not see them around much longer.
    John#4
     
  5. OUVickie

    OUVickie Well-Known Member Supporter

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    They came down through here last week, while it was still warm. Considering the temperature drop this week, it looks like they were just ahead of cooler weather.
     
  6. prhamell

    prhamell Well-Known Member

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    We lived in a small town on the Mississippi River in MN for a few years and every fall our trees would be loaded with monarch butterflies. I remember my oldest daughter (who was just a baby when we first bought the place) used to love toddling out under the trees and watching them all float around. I miss that. Becky
     
  7. BCR

    BCR Well-Known Member

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    I had MANY monarch caterpillars on my milkweeds (I have several different varieties) but never did go hunt the chrysalis. I imagine they are long gone from here. Been a while since I saw any. I got a few cool picture of a praying mantis eating one.
     
  8. gearyb

    gearyb Member

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    Last year the trees around the house where full of them, what a glorious sight. This year I either missed them or they just weren't as plentiful. BTW, South/Central Missouri.
     
  9. TexasArtist

    TexasArtist Well-Known Member

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    I saw about 15 flutter overhead tonight. Tomarrow I'll take the binoculars out tomarrow and see what I can find.
     
  10. Meg Z

    Meg Z winding down

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    Not to mention the fact that milkweed growing in proximity to GM corn kills monarch larvae. Too bad they didn't add that to the article.

    I still haven't figured out how to put links on here, but if you do a search for 'monarchs milkweed GM corn" you'll find articles from places like Cornell and Guelph on the damage done.

    Meg :)
     
  11. jacksun

    jacksun Active Member

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    people have short memories or just didnt catch it last winter mexico had freezing temps where the monarchs migrate too 85/90%of them died the discovery news showed pictures of peoples walking through piles of them almost a foot thick no mystery why we havent seen many this year. p.s.those who do not know their history are doomed to repeat it.
     
  12. WisJim

    WisJim Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Around here (west central Wisconsin), I haven't seen any Monarchs. I also haven't seen any milkweed in the 20 acres+ that adjoins our home and orchard, and it is usually full of milkweed all summer. I'll have to go out and see if there is any at all, if it isn't snowing by the time I get home.

    Jim
     
  13. Meg Z

    Meg Z winding down

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    I did forget that! I hope that doesn't doom the monarchs into repeating it!

    Poor critters are just getting slammed from all directions, aren't they?!

    Meg :)
     
  14. ginnie5

    ginnie5 wife,mom,taxi driver,cook Supporter

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    we've had a few on our butterfly bushes this year. Last year the butterflies were here all summer, this summer we hardley had any till just this month. Dd caught one in her net yesterday and I made her let it go. Then we learned all about them and how far it still had to go. She wished it well on its trip.
     
  15. GeorgeK

    GeorgeK Well-Known Member

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    see several a day on our farm, I make a point of not mowing the milkweed, well ok, just not mowing
     
  16. Tango

    Tango Well-Known Member

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    When we lived in Texas we were in their trail. I loathed the season of monarchs (actually wrote a sucky haiku about it). The only way to enjoy them was to stay off the highways. Don't go to work, don't go to the store. Any act of vehicle movement was a guaranteed monarch slaughter :(
     
  17. primroselane

    primroselane Well-Known Member

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    Saw three yesterday and one today.

    Dick Stanley

    AMERICAN-STATESMAN STAFF

    Sunday, October 17, 2004

    From Vermont to California, many fewer monarch butterflies have been seen this fall: only thousands instead of the millions usually fluttering south on their annual epic journey to a wintering spot near Mexico City.

    Some experts say the magical migration -- which converges on a 300-mile-wide corridor from Oklahoma City to Del Rio before crossing the border -- is the smallest in 14 years, apparently reduced from the usual 300 million or so by bad weather and changing farming practices.

    "We've had very few reports outside that narrow band," said Texas Parks and Wildlife Department biologist Mike Quinn. "The biggest single report was 5,000 in San Angelo. All along Interstate 35 from Dallas, we've primarily had reports of single ones."

    Monarchs are identifiable by the bright colors of their four wings: orange, yellow or gold and black. The wings also are outlined in black with white dots, but only the large 3- to 5-inch wingspan distinguishes a monarch from smaller mimics, such as the Viceroy butterfly.

    Quinn said the leading wave of the migrating monarchs has fluttered into Mexico by now, dependent on northerly winds to help them soar as far as 80 miles a day, close to the ground or thousands of feet in the air.

    Weighing less than half as much as a dime, monarchs are not strong fliers, according to Chip Taylor, the entomologist- director of the Monarch Watch program at the University of Kansas who has followed the migrations for 16 years.

    He speculates on the group's Web site, monarchwatch.org, that last summer's weather, which was colder and wetter than usual up north, might have delayed their reproduction cycle so more winged travelers could be seen for several weeks.

    Even when bad weather doesn't afflict them, Quinn said, the migration has a long tail, with a few butterflies still flying south in November.

    Most monarchs spend the winter clinging together in semi-dormancy in the fir trees of a densely forested mountain preserve 11,000 feet high in Michoacan state, about 130 miles west of Mexico City. Some also spend the winter in Florida, Louisiana, Arizona and California.

    Each spring, monarchs begin flying north to their summer homes in Canada, New England and the Great Lakes region.

    The monarchs of the fall migration are the great-great-grandchildren of those that flew north, where they mated and died.

    It took scientists decades to figure out where monarchs went each year, and they are still trying to determine how they do it so unerringly.

    In addition to bad weather, including a hard freeze last February that killed many of the monarchs in Mexico, Quinn said they have been hurt by biotechnology.

    The butterflies depend on nectar from wild milkweed plants, which are being killed by herbicides that farmers can apply more abundantly thanks to herbicide-resistant varieties of crops such as soybeans.

    Despite their diminished numbers this year, monarchs are not an endangered or threatened species. After all, each female lays up to 400 eggs.