Here in our Northern Garden, we have many monarchs that spend the summer eating our nectar. Come the fall, however, they begin their migration to Mexico. As part of the Monarch Waystation program we rear the caterpillars indoors and tag them once they emerge. These tags provide scientists with valuable information about the monarchs such as how far they fly, where they fly and how long they live
This year, the spring came very early and brought the adult monarchs with it. The adult monarchs feed on the nectar from the flowers in the native garden and lay their eggs on the milkweed plants. The caterpillars eat the milkweed leaves and grow over a period of 9-14 days. This cycle continues throughout the summer yielding three generations of adult monarchs. The final generation puts reproduction on hold and makes the long journey south
This year, August was very hot and dry, which is not ideal for the developing caterpillars. The plants dried up very early, and the monarchs were forced to begin their migration south early. This meant that although we had two successful generations of adults emerge, they were not the ones that would make the journey to Mexico.
We did manage to tag some adult butterflies this year and you can see if any of the tags have been recovered at http://www.monarchwatch.org/waystations/registry/ (Science North’s ID is 4084). You can also check out this site for cool information about monarch butterflies as well as how to get involved with monarch watch.
I’d love to hear any stories you have to share about butterflies, so please leave me a reply!
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