The Monarch Migration Compass

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 312:00-3:00pm 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”.
Thank You,
Tracy McCleaf
US Fish and Wildlife Service
National Conservation Training Center
698 Conservation Way
Shepherdstown, WV 25443

 

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Disinfecting Monarch Eggs

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.

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Growing in Clay

I was recently asked how to plant in clay soil.
Here are some options.

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First off, kill off the grass and weeds. You can cover the area with a tarp or newspaper/cardboard or use a herbicide. Use a lawn mower with a bagger and remove all the weed seeds and waste. You don’t want to have to battle the weeds during that first year.

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The easy way to plant with a clay soil base is to cover the area with 6 to 12 inches of a good soil/compost mix. You plant in the soil mix and not the clay soil. Over time, the roots and earthworms will break up the clay soil.

starting-seeds-outside-01Another option is to plant native seeds in the fall. Make sure the seeds come in contact with the soil. The above are Asclepias tuberosa seeds I planted last fall. I then cover the seeds with a soil mix so that the seeds are covered and will germinate easily in the spring. Native plants don’t need or want good soil for growing.

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If you have the time, energy and money, you can dump lots of compost onto the clay and till it in. You can then plant directly into the soil. Unfortunately, in the process of roto-tilling you will bring up dormant weed seeds and will have to battle the weeds in the spring.

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The final option is to make a hole for each plant and throw away the clay soil. You can then add a potting mix to the hole when you plant. I have used a large bulb planter in the past with this technique and it works well.

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When the plants are growing well, you can add mulch to help with the weeds and conserve water. I usually add a mixture of compost and mulch every year to help feed the plants and improve the soil. Note – I found out that the mixture I got was very hot and killed most of my grass in the center.

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2018 – Dates – Notes – Plants – ToDo

Plants for these people/schools/groups.
If you know of a St. Louis group or school that wants plants for 2018 – let me know.

  • Yvonne D – church – butterfly garden
  • Jonny – Mary S. – kids program – plant seeds – around March 1st.
  • Kennerly School – Sheri S. – BG
  • Cub Scouts – Pack 580

Seeds to Buy

Harrisseeds.com

  • Zinnia profusion double hot cherry – did very well in 2017
  • Marigold Golden Gate

Try Denim and Lace Russian Sage
https://www.bluestoneperennials.com/PEDL.html


Asclepias curassavica doesn’t compete well with Incarnata or large zinnias. In the back, only plant it without other tall plants.

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Garden Tour – June 17th

I am part of a Crestwood Garden Tour that I’m sure many fellow gardeners would enjoy.

Saturday – June 17th, from 9 a.m. to noon.
It will be followed by a get-together at The Barn to meet fellow gardeners.
1015 Sappington Rd, St. Louis, MO 63126

This is a FREE event, so we’re expecting a large crowd.
You can signup and get details by emailing beautifycrestwood@gmail.com.

You may also just show up at my house and I’ll give you a list of locations and a map.
9016 Robyn Rd – 63126

Crestwood has some world class gardeners in our community who have been very gracious in opening up their yards to show us their beautiful yards.

Included in the tour, you will see:

  • Day-lilies and Hostas
  • Native and Pollinator Plants
  • Butterfly Gardening
  • Chickens in the Back Yard
  • Perennials and Roses
  • Raised Bed Gardening
  • Shade Gardening

If you are interested in learning more about Beautify Crestwood, you can subscribe to their website at BeautifyCrestwood.org or email them at beautifycrestwood@gmail.com.
They are also on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/BeautifyCrestwood/.

 

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Mulch/Compost 2017

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I bought four cubic yards of Black Forest mulch from St. Louis Composting for a total delivered price of $155. It’s a combination of fine wood mulch and compost. It’s a very nice mix that looks great. It’s easy to spread, but took a week for me to put it all down. I really could have used five yards.

Unfortunately, the mixture was still very hot and burned the lawn in the center. I’m hoping that the grass will come back. Next year pay Linda to spread the compost when she cleans the garden.

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Butterfly/Pollinator Plants

butterfly-guide-maryannfinkThanks to Mary Ann Fink and St. Louis County Parks for this concise sheet of local butterflies and their host and nectar plants. This sheet also applies to other pollinator species such as bees, hummingbirds etc.

While this sheet is specific to St. Louis Missouri, it should also be useful for many areas of the country.

This is a google drive document which allows you to download the file.
Here is the link.

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