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Saturday, September 27, 2014

Are Monarch Butterflies in Trouble? There's Some Hope!

This year we are seeing more Monarch Butterflies stop by our garden, where last year we only saw two. Even though Monarch Butterfly populations are in deep trouble, having declined for the last 10 years, people are seeing more this year, but nowhere near as many as in the past. Monarchs still need substantial help if their populations are to be sustained in the long run. Most of their decline is due to habitat loss and loss of milkweed, which they need to lay their eggs on and their caterpillars eat. 
Plans need to be implemented to offset the loss of milkweed due to development and increasing croplands and milkweed needs to be maintained and more planted along migration routes. In your own yard you can plant flowers migrating monarchs nectar on. You can also help protect milkweed areas in your yard and local conservation areas. 

Go to this excellent website for much more info. 

In early Sept. they reported,

Reports from throughout the breeding range indicate an increase in monarch numbers roughly along the lines projected in May. The migration is already underway having started at 50 N around the 12th of August. The leading edge should be in southern MN at this time and in Ames, IA around the 6th of Sept. Fall roosts have been reported to Journey North in the Dakotas, MN, WI, MI and NY as of 28 August. No roosts had been recorded by the 29th of August last year (see Monarch Roosts Fall 2013 and Monarch Roosts Fall 2014). There will surely be more monarchs to tag over the next two months and the overwintering population in Mexico is certain to be larger. At a minimum, I expect the population to be twice as large as last year or roughly 1.4 hectares but it could be twice that size. We still have to hear about monarchs from many areas and the conditions during the migration will likely determine how many of the migrants reach the overwintering sites. It will help to watch the reports of overnight clusters recorded by Journey North and to watch the weather conditions and note the availability of nectar sources as monarchs migrate through the United States and northern Mexico.

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