Friday, September 27, 2019

Monarch Butterflies

Pam, in the center, with her crew of volunteers, including Terri Ferguson, Mary Anne Pakark Carroll, and Steven Michael Wilson. 
On Saturday, September 14, we had the honor of having Pam Spencer, her husband, Steven, a Master Naturalist, and several Master Gardener volunteers, at our store to help children and adults tag and release Monarch Butterflies. Over 100 people took part.
A certificate, with the tag number, will allow participants to follow the migration. Last year, 4 of Pam's Monarchs were recorded in Mexico

Tiny tag carefully attached

The family is learning more about our natural world

The butterflies were released and will be heading south to Mexico. The volunteers were amazing, allowing each participant to hold the butterflies by their wings, and attach the tiny label that will track the Monarchs on their flight. As soon as we opened our palms, the butterflies headed up and away.

This little girl watches as the butterfly takes flight

It's rewarding to watch as a connection is made

 A few stragglers seemed reluctant to leave.
Getting to know each other pre-flight
We hope to do the event next year after holding a class that will teach us more about the metamorphosis of this winged wonder. We released them near our walkway butterfly habitat. Our butterfly garden near the pond posed a bit of a risk to the butterflies who may have gotten too close to the resident koi.

Immediately following the release, I left with two friends and headed up to Maine, to the Schoodic Peninsula. Just east of Bar Harbor, the peninsula is home to a smaller section of Acadia National Park. Early Sunday morning, we headed to Schoodic Point.
Goldenrod at Schoodic

They seemed to like the ferns too
What a wonderful surprise...Monarchs were taking advantage of some wild plantings of Solidago, Goldenrod, right there! A National Park Naturalist nearby was leading a migratory seabird count. She informed me that in the past week, she'd seen 500 Monarchs migrating through the area. The rest of the week, as we hiked through Petit Manan Wildlife Refuge, and several botanical parks along the coast, we saw Monarchs.
Other butterflies were present in Thuya Gardens

We saw the butterflies feeding on Goldenrod, Joe-Pye Weed, Salvias, Dahlias, and scores of other plants. We need to have plenty of fall-blooming natives in our own gardens to create islands of food and shelter for these and other wildlife as they travel through our areas. To learn more about the migration of butterflies, follow their journeys. Monarch Watch is another website dedicated to education about Monarchs. And, visit our store to pick up a free handout on Attracting Butterflies and Hummingbirds to the garden.
Hummingbirds are on the move south as well. Look at this fat little guy

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