Despite species decline, counting program will go on two days in September
Odds are good you haven’t seen a single Monarch butterfly this year – or if you have, you’ve seen just a few.
Not only are Monarchs sparse in Geauga County this year, but Mexico saw its smallest population overwintering since 1975, when counting began.
Yet Geauga Park District will continue with its popular Monarch Butterfly Tagging programs this year, even if it means exploring the causes of the decline and other field insects in the their absence.
What: Monarch Butterfly Tagging
When: Sundays, September 8 & 15, 2013 – 12:30 to 4 p.m.
Where: Swine Creek Reservation in Middlefield Township on September 8
Frohring Meadows in Bainbridge Township on September 15
As usual, tagging programs will include exploration of the fields to net and tag Monarchs on their way to winter havens in Mexico, part of Monarch Watch’s study of this cross-continental migration, and perhaps more important now than ever before, from 1 to 4 p.m.
An introduction about the Monarch’s life cycle and migration will begin at 12:30 p.m.
Participants may also play an exciting “life-sized board game” dramatizing the hazards of this amazing journey. Nets will be provided, but please feel free to bring your own, as well as sun block, a hat and long pants.
So where have all the Monarchs gone?
The first factor has been loss of habitat, both in the U.S. and in Mexico. Corn and soybean productions is skyrocketing for biofuels, and seeds are genetically modified to tolerate herbicides, minimizing milkweed-containing fields. Also, consider more aggressive mowing and herbiciding of roadsides, and 2.2 million acres of development a year.
Second to the loss of their habitat is the year’s unusual weather. March was the warmest since recording began in 1895, drawing Monarchs north prematurely. Then summer was among the hottest and driest in recent decades, reducing lifespan.
What can we do? Plant milkweed, on which Monarch larvae appear to feed exclusively. You can learn more about this plant and how we can all help the Monarch population regenerate online.