Thursday, 18 July 2013

Monarch butterflies are late this year, numbers are down

Is that you, Mommy?
Not only that, but they are sadly down in numbers.
There are several reasons, according to experts.
Seriously. Journey North Tells us: 
Firstly, the numbers are down due to the drought in the middle on the continent in 2012 in their breeding habitat.
Secondly, they are late returning due to the late spring in the south.
Finally, only 20% of normal populations were found in their winter habitat in Mexico.
Normally, there are 350 million and they found a mere 60 million monarchs.
Some are blaming pesticides and logging in Mexico, and the lack of milkweed in breeding territory, but it is much more complex than that. " In 2000, the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve was created. The reserve is comprised of 56,000 hectares with complete or partial legal protection from logging, which includes cluster sites of monarch colonies. It is about 100 km north west of Mexico City.
Monarch Butterfly eggs in New Jersey
Annual Cycle

Normal breeding season lasts four months, with eggs taking a month to hatch, this late start has reduced their ability to reproduce their full numbers. Right now, the female monarchs are searching for milkweed on which to lay their eggs. 
Milkweed in flower
in my backyard
One female can lay 400-600 eggs in her lifetime. Male monarchs are patrolling milkweed in search of females for mating. Monarchs only live for 2-6 weeks during the breeding season. 
I have seen only one this year. 
What I think amusing are the journalists who mistakenly tell us to plant more flowers rich in nectar, to help them out. It's quite late to plant flowers, and the thousands of Monarch-free milkweed plants in fields and ditches are tell-tale signs of the lack of Monarchs to lay the eggs. Of the thousands of eggs a female can lay, about 10% make it to adulthood due to predators and parasites.
How to tell the male from the female. How to differentiate a Monarch from a Viceroy!
These are last year's photos.
I captured it munching. You can see its little parts moving away. It froze when it sensed I was watching.
You can see it munching!

Monarch caterpillar
You can buy kits and hatch them yourself.

Viceroy - don't be fooled!


Olga said...

I just finished reading Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver so your monarch post is quite timely for me.

eileeninmd said...

It is sad to hear that the monarch numbers are down! Thanks for sharing the info and your photos are great.

Carver said...

Great information and wonderful shots. I love seeing the monarch in all of its stages.

Red said...

I learned more about Monarch's in your one post than I ever knew about them. Song bird populations are a way down too.

Phil said...

The grubs are as good looking as the butterflies Jennifer. Amazing, I saw Monarchs in Fuerteventura in February!

Misty DawnS said...

I haven't seen many Monarchs this year either. I've seen a few, but not nearly as many as usual.