Saturday, 7 December 2013

Journeying south - snowbirds and monarchs!

Momma and baby!     Bala, 2009
Retired snowbird! 
Yes, it is that time of year. Both our retired snowbirds
and monarchs have gone to warmer climes.

I've written previously about the monarch populations. Due to the 2012 drought in North America, numbers were down in Mexico, where they overwinter. Only about 20% of the estimated population returned that terrible winter. There were other factors: pesticide use, habitat loss, but, for the most part, this seems to be in their wintering sites.

This last summer many have bemoaned th
Monarch caterpillar on milkweed
e fact that they saw very few, if any, monarchs in their yards and fields. I only spotted one, despite hundreds of milkweed plants! They were late arriving in S.E. Ontario and I didn't see it until July, 2013. They can lay two sets of eggs, once in July and once in August, during a good year.
They do require milkweed in order to eat and reproduce. But that is another story!

Yummy milkweed!
These are photos from previous years, when they were plentiful.

Sept. 2012
Sept. 2012

Port Carling library hatched some
July 2008 
Butterfly on a butterfly bush!
Fooler: Viceroy!
So lovely!

It's hard to say how many made it, and how many managed to reproduce over the summer. Journey North is reviewing their monarch data. They began to arrive in November in Mexico, after a long flight. This is a great information site, where civilians can track their sightings, and check out data from the pros, as well!

There are many factors to blame, aside from the drought, which many blame on Climate Change. Lack of habitat in Mexico, although that doesn't seem to be an issue here, in Ontario. Our fields are full of milkweed plants, but no butterflies.

Population Estimates
Every December, scientists visit the 12 traditional wintering sites and measure the area of forest the monarchs occupy. This chart shows the data scientists have collected for 19 years. Results will be released in March, 2014.
The question is: how many returned this year?

For more animal photos visit Saturday's Critters #1

20 comments:

Beth Edwards said...

hopped over thanks to "Saturday's Critters" ... i love the snow bird. that is too cute & funny as well. have a happy weekend. ( :

The Furry Gnome said...

I completely missed seeing any monarchs this summer. So sad.

Ela said...

Beautiful pictures of the nature

TexWisGirl said...

i was happy to see a few monarchs here this fall - first time in ages that i can remember.

HOOTIN ANNI said...

This post is incredible!! And to see them through their hatching stages is awesome.

bailey-road.com said...

Beautiful shots.

Hilary said...

They are indeed precious and lovely. I didn't see too many of them around this past summer either.

Gunilla Bäck said...

Beautiful photos of the caterpillars and butterflies!

acreativeharbor.com said...

Beautiful shots of the butterflies ~ thanks, carol, xxx

Olga said...

We have a field full of milkweed behind our property, but no Monarchs for the past three years or so. It is sad.

lindaakacraftygardener said...

Monarchs were scarce this year. Hopefully next year will see an increase ... but I'm not going to hold my breath!

Judith @ Lavender Cottage said...

It was disappointing this summer to see hardly any monarchs. Usually they're fighting over the butterfly bush out front but I only saw one at a time, probably the same one.
Lots of milkweed along our roadsides, and in my garden waiting for them.

eileeninmd said...

I love this post on the Monarch butterflies and caterpillars. It is sad that the Monarch butterflies are disappearing. Beautiful photos, thank you for linking up your post the 1st Saturday's Critters. Have a happy weekend!

Christine said...

oh no, I hope the numbers pick up. It's like the bee population.

Al said...

I hope they make it - there are far too many species in trouble these days.

Karen said...

I saw a few monarchs this year. Love your shot on the beach!

Brian King said...

Gorgeous shots! I didn't see any monarchs this year.

Far Side of Fifty said...

I saw two or three all summer long..and no larvae..I had lots of Milkweed too. Wonderful photos:)

Powell River Books said...

I'm going to be a bit of a snowbird next week. We are heading for Los Angeles to visit Mom and Dad's grave just before the holidays. While we are there we hope to get a bit of sunshine and "warm" weather. - Margy

Wandering Wren said...

We don't seem to have any monarchs around at the moment but it's going to be a good season for bluebottles! Amazing photos to see them hatching out.
Wren x