The fate of Monarch Butterflies has been of concern for many years now, resulting in increased awareness and actions by citizens to help these iconic creatures. Countless milkweed plants have been nurtured in pots and gardens to provide a food source for caterpillars. Tagging programs are active as are outreach programs that engage people about the most iconic of our pollinating insects. Well, there is yet one more opportunity for all you Monarch Butterfly lovers to help researchers tract and understand the distribution of this insect in winter. My friend Robert Smith recently shared a post from Monarch Watch through his organization (Wildlife Mississippi) that has details about how you can help: that I share verbatim below. Keep your eyes peeled and report what you see.
Report your wintering monarch butterflies!
A Special Invitation to Monitor Overwintering Monarchs.
December 2020 – March 2021
If you live in the Gulf states of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida as well as Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina, Journey North has a special invitation for you.
Each fall, thousands of monarch butterflies stream across the southern U.S. on their journey to wintering grounds in central Mexico. In the spring, this eastern population of monarchs returns to the U.S. and Canada to breed.
But not all monarchs migrate to Mexico. Some breed throughout the winter in the southern U.S., and scattered reports show that other monarchs might overwinter here in a non-reproductive state.
Researchers and others studying monarchs are seeking more information to understand why and what it might imply for monarchs, a candidate for listing under the federal Endangered Species Act. For this, they need your help.
In a collaborative effort, Journey North, Monarchs Across Georgia, the University of Georgia and the Georgia Department of Natural Resources are encouraging people to report monarch sightings from December through March in the coastal states of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, and North Carolina.
Observations include adult monarchs, monarch eggs and monarch larvae. Please report your monarch observations to Journey North at https://journeynorth.org/
Hope to see you in our great outdoors!
Photo courtesy of Robert Smith – Photobiologist