In Southeastern Michigan it appears to be a slow year for the monarchs. Very few adults have been observed feeding on my flowers and so far, and only one caterpillar on my milkweed. I have heard comments from other people that have observed the lack of monarchs this year. With the weekend spent out of doors at the St. Clair Metro-park I only observed a single adult monarch butterfly headed south. In previous years I have seen many. As a biologist however I cannot ascertain for certain as to why the numbers are low this year. Was it the cool temperatures in the spring and throughout the summer, a poor survival rate of returning migrant butterflies in the spring, or perhaps a higher than normal survival rate of the predatory wasps whose larva feed on the monarch's caterpillars? It is the long term trends of butterfly populations that tell us what is happening in nature as there have always throughout history been good years and bad years for the survival of any species. Nature provides so many variables that can affect a population that a single year cannot be used to determine if there is or is not a long term problem. Even tough the monarchs made little use of my flowering common milk weed patch this year that plants did not go unused. Beautiful bright red milkweed beetles and my honey bees took full advantage of these wonderful plants.
August 27th, 2013
8/28/2013 08:00:06 am
:( I love seeing the Monarchs, I hope there are more next year. I know the kids love it as well.
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Randy Baker is the award winning owner of Naturalist Endeavors. 12 Yrs of university training in biology, combined with extensive field and classroom experience brings a unique perspective to his programs and tours.