This Thing Called Courage

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Monarch Migration Time

I'VE BEEN SEEING A LOT OF MONARCHS THE PAST FEW DAYS. The other day, walking Fionn back along the Fellsway, we crossed over the Route 93 overpass and saw five or six of them fluttering along Route 93 South, twenty feet or so above the traffic-- as if they had Mapquested the best route to Mexico, to where they are migrating now (the longest butterfly migration in the world. Can you imagine those fluttering wings take them 3000 miles?) Today, walking around the Sugarbowl at Castle Island, there were dozens and dozens of them, feasting on the wild ocean goldenrod that grows everywhere around there. They need to replenish their energy again and again on their mighty trip down to Mexico, and having such 'way stations' along the way is crucial.

But as much of the country is converted from farmland and pastureland to strip malls, suburban housing tracts, and corporate parks, the Monarchs are losing their 'way stations.' A wonderful organization called 'Monarch Watch' (see link) is urging people to create their own way stations along the Monarch's route, and they have all the information you need to get started.

Basically the Monarchs need lots of nectar-bearing flowers on the way south (in our area, Coneflowers, Joe-Pye Weed, Goldenrod, Butterfly Bush, etc) and lots of Milkweed on the way back home next spring, onto which they can lay their eggs. (It's the only plant they do lay their eggs on-- when the eggs hatch out, the larvae eat the Milkweed, to which they are immune, and thus birds and other predators leave them alone-- as Milkweed is toxic to everything else.) We can also encourage ourselves, our neighbors, our municipalities, and our states to stop spraying pesticides and herbicides, and to set up their own Monarch Way Stations. Spread the word! I grow my own milkweed every year-- it's really easy-- and get such a sense of satisfaction when I see holes in it, knowing a Monarch larva has been there-- even along rip-roaring Main Street.


Blogger Scott said...

hm, very cool. I'll let that sit and permeate.

10:01 AM  

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