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Monarchs Are On the Move

9/17/2008 11:55:43 AM

Tags: nature, butterflies, monarchs, butterfly migration, wildlife, beneficial insects

MonarchsBP 

 

Migrating populations of monarch butterflies are predicted to be on the low side this year, but that doesn't mean you won't notice them. If you look up in the sky late in the afternoon during the next few weeks, chances are good that you will see determined monarch butterflies flitting toward Mexico.

Butterfly watchers in the upper Midwest are already seeing roosts in which dozens of monarchs gather in a single bush or tree for the night. Here in southwest Virginia, a continuous stream of monarchs are stopping to sip nectar from the native asters and zinnias I planted just for them.

Want to track this year's migration and report sightings? The animated migration map, based on the citizen reporting system hosted by JourneyNorth.org, provides great graphics. Or, you can participate in the forum for sightings sponsored by MonarchWatch.org.

Sometimes it may look like monarchs are flying in the wrong direction, but don't worry. Recent scientific papers by neurobiologist Steven R. Reppert have identified a sophisticated inner clock mechanism that enables monarchs to constantly reorient themselves, insuring that they stay on a sound migratory course.

 


Contributing editor Barbara Pleasant gardens in southwest Virginia, where she grows vegetables, herbs, fruits, flowers and a few lucky chickens. Contact Barbara by visiting her website or finding her on .

Photo by Barbara Pleasant



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Post a comment below.

 

Ericka_1
9/30/2008 7:38:10 AM
I, too, remember watching tons of monarchs as a young child in my gramma's backyard...that is, until fields and native prairie lands were bulldozed over in the name of "progress". Factories and condos now line the skyline where once I watched sunsets, birds, and butterflies. Now that I am grown and moved across state, I still miss the flitting of the orange and black winged beauties. I came across Monarch Watch two years ago, and it hit my heartstrings head-on. So as a homeschool project, my kids and I planted a monarch butterfly garden in our yard, and this year we've had many butterflies come to it! We are now a certified monarch waystation. How exciting to share a piece of my childhood with my children! What a great way to teach our kids about a God who loves us and cares for us so much to create beauty all around us that we can touch, see, smell, experience, and appreciate! Thank you, Mother Earth News, for dedicating so much time, talent, and passionate professionalism to increase awareness on our planet!

cari _1
9/28/2008 10:51:45 PM
Since I can remember we have always had scads of monarchs on the milkweed and other plants on our small farm. We had so many, we even donated the chrysalises to the elementary school teachers to hatch and release for the kindergarteners and first graders. It was awe-inspiring for the little ones to see the butterflies emerge and fly away! And one of the most wonderful stages of a baby's life is when they first notice a butterfly, and point their little fingers skyward as tehy wathc the butterfly take flight, their baby faces filled with surprise, joy and astonishment. I can remember each of my children doing just that. A truly magical moment, never to be forgotten. Well, the sad reality is that for the past three years, we have had not one Monarch cross our yard. We have had only two Swallowtail sightings. No Monarch eggs. Nothing. How terribly sad the world would be without the magic of butterflies. This is the beginning of an appreciation of Nature. First, the butterflies. Then, the ladybugs, or perhaps the dragonflies. As the baby's awareness grows, so does his grasp of all the wonderful things that Nature has provided for us to protect and enjoy. This is also how many people teach their kids about God, and all the wonderful living things He has created. How can we deny global warming, or climate change? Please do your part to protect the butterflies (and everything else) for all the babies to come. Your babies. Your grandbabies. Your great-grandbabies. The balance of life on Earth depends upon each of us and what we do now.

Lynn_3
9/26/2008 7:56:28 AM
For those who have never had the chance to see a monarch migration, it is a site to never forget. Back in the mid 70's, I remember what seem like thousands of butterflies going through our small town in East Tennessee. For several hours the sky was full of these wonderful creatures. I was a child at the time and never even thought about taking a photo. I have always felt that I missed a great Kodak moment.







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