Wednesday, July 25, 2007

The Monarch Migration Begins

Depending where you are in the country, you may soon be seeing Monarchs on their migration to Mexico. The Monarchs east of the Rocky Mountains migrate to Mexico, while those west of the Rocky Mountains migrate to a grove of trees along the California coast.

We're in Central Virginia and have begun seeing them. We also have Monarch caterpillars (see photo to left) on our milkweed. I am very excited about that. I've counted 7 of them so far and one is big enough to soon be spinning the chrysalis.

The birds won't eat Monarch caterpillars since they become toxic from a property in the milkweed plant that the eggs are laid on and that the caterpillar eats as a larvae stage of the butterfly.

We are a certified Monarch Waystation which is a fun family or individual project to attract Monarchs and help with recovery of their population.

Below is a list of peaks for Monarchs. If you don't know your latitude, you can Google the word 'latitude' along with your city and state.

Latitude Peak In Monarch Abundance

49 18-30 August
47 24 August -5 September
45 29 August - 10 September
43 3 - 15 September
41 8 - 20 September
39 14-26 September
37 19 September - 1 October
35 24 September - 6 October
33 29 September - 11 October
31 4-16 October
29 10-22 October
27 15-27 October
25 20 October - 1 November
23 27 October -8 November
21 3-15 November

In all the world, no butterflies migrate like the Monarchs of North America. They travel much farther than all other tropical butterflies, up to three thousand miles. They are the only butterflies to make such a long, two way migration every year.

Amazingly, they fly in masses to the same winter roosts, often to the exact same trees. Their migration is more the type we expect from birds or whales. However, unlike birds and whales, individuals only make the round-trip once. It is their children's grandchildren that return south the following fall.

That's incredible!

This site for Monarchs is relatively new and has lots of information:

Find out more about Monarchs and the Waystation program:

Consider turning a part of your yard into a Monarch Waystation. We did and the local paper did an article on us. This was the photo they used. We put the sign on the mailbox post since we have a lot of walkers in our neighborhood. Hopefully it's causing others to become a waystation also.

Monarchs need our help for nectar sources and egg laying plants. In the 15 years of Monarch Watch, we've lost 34 million acres of habitat, an area nearly equal to the size of Illinois. There is great value in creating Monarch Waystations.

We're all connected! You've certainly heard this year about the news on honey bees and the effect that will have for our food supply. The Senate designated June 24-30 as National Pollinator Week and the U.S. Postal Service produced a set of stamps to commemorate pollinators.

If we protect Monarchs, we protect other pollinators, and if we protect native pollinators, we protect honey bees as well. Let's help keep it all connected by doing a small part. Providing a Monarch Waystation will give so much back to your family. The wonders of nature always complete the circle of giving and receiving.

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