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Population appears to be rebounding. Milkweed is key. Key steps to recovery: State agencies should avoid mowing milkweed areas where feasible. Mexican authorities need to crack down on illegal logging in protected overwinter areas. As RAH mentioned earlier, we should plant milkweed, especially in the Midwest.

https://wattsupwiththat.com/2022/06/08/2022-monarch-butterfly-update/

These days, I'll take good news wherever I can find it.

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Butterfly weed is starting to bloom on our place now. My wife grew and planted these in our prairie areas a few years back. Lots of common milkweed growing right now as well. Not seeing good numbers of monarch butterflies yet. I did identify a new plant on our place this year called hop tree or wafer ash which is a host plant for giant swallowtails. I new some plant in the citrus family was around based on seeing the adult butterflies, but had just not been able to identify it until now. After 30 years we continue to find new plants on our place. Found green dragon plants last year and my wife collected seed and is growing seedlings. Seeds turn bright red like those of the related jack-in-the-pulpit. Need to wear gloves handling the seed due to toxins that irritate the skin, but birds and rodents eat them.

[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]

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BUTTERFLIES


Im going to ask a lot of questions, but only because I'm clueless


5-20 Acres in Florida. Bass/Tilapia/Bowfin/Gator
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I had way more Monarchs this May than I usually observe at our farm.

None of our milkweed was even close to blooming. I assume they were getting nectar from some of the low, ground cover type wildflowers in our fields.

I will check out some of our milkweed plants for caterpillars, but I don't know if the monarchs were just passing through, or if they were going to reproduce in my area before the next generation kept heading north to Canada?

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You know, Rod, this is what I find astonishing about the Monarch migration: It is multigenerational. The ones that begin aren't the ones that finish the journey. How???


7ac 2015 CNBG RES FHM 2016 TP FLMB 2017 NLMB GSH L 2018 TP & 70 HSB PK 2019 TP RBT 2020 TFS TP 25 HSB & 250 F1,L,RBT -206 2021 TFS TP GSH L,-312 2022 GSH TP CR TFS -116




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Insects are truly an amazing group of critters!

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I have seen none this year.


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Originally Posted by anthropic
You know, Rod, this is what I find astonishing about the Monarch migration: It is multigenerational. The ones that begin aren't the ones that finish the journey. How???

The Monarchs I looked at closely this spring all had perfect scales and perfect wingtips. Pretty sure they were a post-winter generation.

They each came out of their chrysalis alone, how did they know they were supposed to fly towards Canada after their wings dried?

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If we were to plant milkweed would we more than likely see monarch?

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Quite frankly, we have many thousands of milkweeds on our place and are not really seeing a significant increase. I wonder if they are simply not finding the right habitat on the way up from Mexico?

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Originally Posted by Pat Williamson
If we were to plant milkweed would we more than likely see monarch?

Pat,

Planting milkweed will certainly increase your odds of seeing Monarchs.

However, we have milkweed at our house and farm and we don't see any some years. I used to think those were just "down" years for Monarchs. Now I check the data and have confirmed that there are some years that have abundant Monarch populations and we still don't see them.

Our land is along one of the main migration routes. IMO the location and strength of the weather fronts during the migration periods does affect their route. I believe that some years they are pushed off their main route by unfavorable winds.

You should be in a good place to host some Monarchs if you enhance their habitat a little. The I-35 highway corridor actually appears to assist their migration. Here is a quote from one the habitat enhancement references:

"The landscape that parallels roadways, like the I-35 corridor, can provide natural habitat to support the annual migration of the monarch butterfly. The Pollinator Partnership, including a number of state, local and federal government agencies, corporations, and organizations collaborating and supporting pollinators and conservation of their habitat developed this poster to celebrate the monarch butterfly.

The I-35 corridor follows Interstate 35 through six states from Minnesota south to Texas, following the central flyway of monarch migration. In 2016, these states signed a memorandum of understanding that informally named I-35 the “Monarch Highway” and agreed to implement coordinated management practices along the corridor that benefit monarchs and other pollinators."


Good luck on your potential butterfly project!

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I’ve never seen it at nurseries… where would you locate it

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Their explanation reminds me of the old joke about the three college professors stranded on a desert island, a chemist, physicist, and economist. They discover a can of beans washed up on the beach and begin arguing over how to open it.

The chemistry professor says, "Just leave it out in the sun. Eventually, the chemical reaction inside will create enough pressure to rupture the can."

The physicist says, "That would take too long. Let's look for a rock with sufficient hardness to pierce the can when struck with sufficient velocity."

The economist says, "You guys are doing it the hard way. Let's assume a can opener."

As a former economist, I can attest there is some truth to the joke!

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As a current scientist, I don't understand the joke:)

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Economics: the dismal science


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The article: "Their model also suggests a simple explanation why monarch butterflies are able to reverse course in the spring and head northeast back to the United States and Canada. The four neural mechanisms that transmit information about the clock and the sun’s position would simply need to reverse direction"
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Why, of course! So how is this done? What are the mechanisms that ensure the reversal happens when it should, in a butterfly descendant of the original insect? And keep in mind that not only is this a new individual, it has passed through a stage of being a caterpillar, and a chrysalis, two very different organisms than the final stage of butterfly.

No doubt some good science is being done, but the "simple explanation" assumes a can opener.

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Perhaps a very specialized form of epigenetics?

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Originally Posted by RAH
Butterfly weed is starting to bloom on our place now. My wife grew and planted these in our prairie areas a few years back. Lots of common milkweed growing right now as well. Not seeing good numbers of monarch butterflies yet. I did identify a new plant on our place this year called hop tree or wafer ash which is a host plant for giant swallowtails. I new some plant in the citrus family was around based on seeing the adult butterflies, but had just not been able to identify it until now. After 30 years we continue to find new plants on our place. Found green dragon plants last year and my wife collected seed and is growing seedlings. Seeds turn bright red like those of the related jack-in-the-pulpit. Need to wear gloves handling the seed due to toxins that irritate the skin, but birds and rodents eat them.

Green dragons! Arisaema dracontium, I have been trying to locate these to plant them as they are a cool relative to Jack in the Pulpits. Rare up here in NY, but I have seen only one plant, ever. It was mowed off by the parks department when they were shoring up a washed out bank.

We have a ton of Milkweed, I dedicate 2 fields to butterflies. I have not yet seen a monarch, they are LATE. Bums. But the fireflies this year are getting pretty good. So are the skeeters.

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Green dragon grow from corms, so it may come up next year.

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This monarch was on our lilacs, but seems to be a traveler given the beat up condition of their wings. Taken May 29th.

[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]


"Gold medals aren't really made of gold. They're made of sweat, determination, and a hard-to-find alloy called guts." - Dan Gable, Olympic Gold medalist, wrestling
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What type of lilac is that? The leaves look different than mine and it seems to bloom later.

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There are a few varieties that are later bloomers. Wyman being one of them (someone related to me developed it, and we have two of them). Our area is ideal for lilacs, so we have a bunch of them.
Saw our first monarch this weekend, late, but finally!

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Originally Posted by RAH
What type of lilac is that? The leaves look different than mine and it seems to bloom later.

It's a "Little Kim" variety, which usually are more compact.


"Gold medals aren't really made of gold. They're made of sweat, determination, and a hard-to-find alloy called guts." - Dan Gable, Olympic Gold medalist, wrestling
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