In St. Louis, we finally have confirmation of the first monarch butterflies and hummingbirds. Margy Terpstra has a great blog which shows these recent sightings.
If you have some milkweed which you have started inside, now would be the time to put some out. I would probably leave it in the pot for a week or two since we still may have some freezing weather. For laying eggs, Monarchs don’t care whether it’s in the pot or in the ground. Group it together to make it easier for them to find.
Also start putting out your hummingbird feeder since they are also back in St. Louis. Margy has a great picture of them nectaring on Bluebells. It’s a great early season native flower.
Here’s your chance to get up close and personal with Monarch butterflies.
Tom Terrific is hosting a tagging party where you will learn how to tag a Monarch and send it off on it’s trip to Mexico.
This party is mainly for kids, but adults are welcome also.
Date – Sunday – October 1st
Time – 1 – 4 p.m.
Place: 9016 Robyn Rd. 63126
You can park at the school.
Come around to the back yard.
Below is some more information on tagging the Monarchs.
Here is some information I received about an upcoming webinar of how the Monarch uses a couple of compasses in it’s migration to Mexico.
Our next webinar in the 2017 Monarch Conservation Series is coming soon!
Date/Time: Thursday, August 31, 2:00-3:00pm Eastern Daylight Time.
Webinar Title: There and Back Again: the compasses monarchs use to get to and return from Mexico
Description: How do monarch butterflies orient southwards during the fall migration in order to reach the overwintering sites in Mexico? How do monarchs re-orient during the spring remigration in order to return northwards? This webinar will provide an overview of how monarchs use various sensory-based orientation mechanisms for directionality. In particular, the webinar focuses on describing how monarchs employ two types of compasses that they can use to help guide them during migration, namely a time-compensated sun compass and an inclination-based magnetic compass. In addition to reviewing our basic knowledge of monarch navigation, this webinar will also describe how the use of these compasses by monarchs is potentially now under threat due to contemporary environmental stressors, such as climate change and sensory noise pollution.
Presenter: Dr. Patrick Anthony Guerra; Assistant Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Cincinnati.
Please share this announcement and registration information as appropriate:
Please join us at 2PM EST on Thursday August 31st by using the following link at the time of the event: http://nctc.fws.gov/broadcasts/
and click on the “NCTC on LiveStream” image then “Monarch Butterfly Series”.
US Fish and Wildlife Service
National Conservation Training Center
698 Conservation Way
Shepherdstown, WV 25443
The topic of disinfecting Monarch eggs was brought up recently in one of the blogs I follow. This is the process of dipping the eggs in a bleach and water solution for a short period of time to get rid of the OE parasite which some Monarchs have. To test for this disease you would need a microscope.
I asked Monarch Watch about this and here is their answer below. The short answer is that they don’t do this normally.
As you can see from the video, they are raising what appears to be thousands of monarch caterpillars. They are probably bleaching the eggs to avoid an OE outbreak. We only bleach eggs if we know that there is a potential for an OE outbreak from a particular monarch female and we need the eggs. All of our monarch adults are tested for OE prior to egg-laying, so we never have outbreaks.
You may find that the instructions found here are sufficient for raising a small number of monarchs: https://monarchjointventure.org/images/uploads/documents/Monarch_Rearing_Instructions.pdf
You may also want to consider participating in citizen science projects such as these:
The Monarch Health Project through the University of Georgia: http://www.monarchparasites.org/
Or, the Monarch Larva Monitoring Project if you are observing wild populations: http://mlmp.org/default.aspx
Below is more information on OE.
The Monarch butterflies have not only made it to St. Louis, Missouri, but they are laying eggs in abundance. A couple of days ago, I saw a flash of orange out the window and when I headed out I discovered forty Swamp Milkweed plants with anywhere from one to three eggs each.
Two days later, I watched as two distinct females laid eggs on another forty-two plants plus a number of Swamp Milkweed in my gardens.
I’ve never had this many eggs laid in the past. I usually might get one to five eggs, and in some years none. It is interesting that these females looked older and one had part of a wing torn away.
Addendum – April 17 – Monarchs still around and laying eggs.
You might wonder how I ended up with so many Swamp milkweed plants and the answer is that these are from seeds I planted in the fall of 2015. Last year I let them grow in place and this year I dug them up for potting.
If you haven’t already, get your milkweed outside and hope the Monarchs will find it.
EDIT – April 19th – Monarchs are still laying eggs on my milkweed. This makes a week of Monarchs in my garden. They don’t seem to have any preference.
I’m doing a program on Monarch butterflies and what you can do to attract them into your garden.
Saturday – April 8th – 9:30 a.m.
Whitecliff Recreation Center
9245 Whitecliff Park Ln, Crestwood, MO 63126
It’s free and everyone is welcome.
I’ll be giving away free seeds and plants to get you started.
Here’s a video of the Monarchs in my garden last fall.
October 6, 2016 – I still have around a hundred Monarchs nectaring on Tropical Milkweed mostly. This was the nicest migration I have ever seen. The migration came through a couple of weeks late, but they stayed around for a week or so.
October 7, 2016 – We are having a cold front come through with winds from the Northwest.
By the end of the day, all one hundred Monarchs have left.
It will be interesting to see how many Monarchs make it to Mexico. From my sightings, the numbers should increase significantly.