Monday, October 12, 2015

Monarch Migration - 2015

This past week the national news reported that the Monarch Butterflies had reached Texas on their migration form Canada to central Mexico.  It seems an appropriate time to post photos of some of those very same butterflies as they visited The Gardens at Waters East while on their spectacular journey back to their Winter resting area.

The whole migration of this very unique butterfly is something to behold.  Starting in Mexico they cross the USA over the time of three generations as they move North.  Then the final generation born in Canada, makes the return flight.  In one generation from Canada to Mexico – never having been to Mexico before taking this long flight.  Most fascinating indeed.

Over the past ten years there have been a number of research projects and follow-up reports on the obvious and noticeable decline in the Monarch butterfly population.  If you are interested in this research, just check the web and you will locate many many articles about this serious problem.  You will find there the reasons for the drastic reduction of this most special butterfly, things like large industrial farming removing the fence lines along smaller farms so that the gigantic machinery can be used in cultivation and harvest, use of herbicides – especially Roundup and 2-4 –D in agriculture, on gulf courses, and home environment landscaping.  These and other recent “improvements” to eliminate problem “weeds” has caused the Monarch population to crash.  In addition to these man made threats,  there were two very cold years in Michoacan Mexico the very place where these butterflies overwinter.

Thirteen years ago when Gardens at Waters East was beginning its development, it was common to see dozens and dozens of these butterflies drop from the sky like falling orange leaves coming here to feed in September while on their long journey back to Mexico.  Three years ago there were NONE!

If you want more on the early years of the Monarch habitat at the gardens here on the shores of Lake Michigan, which is the fly route for these butterflies, check out a past posting in the archives: Monarch Butterflies Feeding Station – March 3, 2011.  There you will find a list of beneficial plants and flowers that are critical in nourishing these long flying travelers that make the three thousand mile trip from Canada back to their Winter resting areas.

Thanks to places like Gardens at Waters East, and the many similar nature preserve along the fly-route of the Monarch, and to the efforts of concerned citizens and gardeners, some of the devastation to the needed feeding habitat for these beautiful and unique butterflies has been confronted.  People concerned about all the toxic chemicals used on our fragile planet, and their work to stop this destruction of Mother Earth, has help to reverse the downward spiral of these butterflies.
This year was amazing.  The Monarch is coming back.  There were dozens and dozens in the gardens this September.  More than have been seen in years.  I took my time and just stood still near the asters and they were all about me.   A joy to behold!  A joy to experience.

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  1. A very beautiful and happy group of monarchs there with all the natural elements they need to enjoy your garden. You and your neighbors are doing a wonderful job of keeping your area natural.

    Down here in South Texas we are experiencing higher than average temperatures and the usual burst of fall flowers are more sparse. There are enough to send them on their way though I will not see many in my own garden this year.

  2. Oh good! This makes my heart sing. :) I did notice more Monarchs this summer, too. I have noticed in recent years that the later groups of Monarchs tend to hug the lakeshores--even here in Madison. I'm sure the lakes--even smaller lakes--tend to moderate the temperatures a bit. Lovely photos!

  3. Jack, lovely photos of butterflies and asters! I also liked the sky above your head, beautiful.