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September 2016

The Homestretch Before the Southern Migration: We are now in the homestretch before we see Monarchs in our area migrating south to spend the winter in Mexico. Journey North has reported the first signs of migration in the northern breeding areas. It is unclear why the migration starts in the northern reaches before it does here, but it is assumed to be a combination of diminishing daylight hours, lowering temperatures, and lowering quality of the plants on which the Monarchs rely.

We have received a lot of reports of Monarchs in our area the past month. On the TMA Facebook page, I reported seeing 13 Monarchs Saturday morning at the Antietam National Battlefield, and I have been immensely gratified by the number of emails that I've received from you on first-time Monarch sightings in your backyards on milkweed you planted this spring.

The peak period for the southern migration in our area (approximate latitude 40 degrees N), according to Monarch Watch, is the middle of September, . So we should continue to see Monarchs transiting our area through the end of September and into early October. They usually start showing up in Angangueo, Michoacan, Mexico, the gateway city to the largest sanctuary, El Rosario, on the Day of the Dead at the beginning of November. They will spend 4-5 months in the sanctuaries hanging on Oyamel Fir trees, where they will not eat or reproduce until they leave for Texas the following March.

As most of you know, this will not be a good year for the Monarch Butterfly. While last year was excellent, possibly half the population in Mexico was caught in a severe winter storm in March just as they were preparing to leave. Monarchs have the potential to bounce back after these events but will require a stretch of decent weather.

Monarch Discovery Days: This is an annual celebration that we are starting right here in Washington County and across the river in Shepherdstown. I hope you know we have six great events between September 3 and 17. I sent you a flyer on Monarch Discovery Days earlier in the month and you can see the events listed on our website calendar. Among other events, we will begin on September 3rd with a great children's exhibit at Discovery Station in Hagerstown and a great finale, a Fall Milkweed and Perennial Plant Sale on September 17 at Sunny Meadows. I will send you copies of the sale flyer on September 1.

August Events: TMA had two great events in August. First, Dave Kaplan and I were able to engage about 20 children on Monarchs at Discovery Station's "Amazing Science" days. And second, Tracy McCleaf, Leah Neveil and I, with the help of other TMA volunteers, held a very successful Mini-ID workshop at Kiwanis Park on Butterflies, pollinators and planting for butterflies attended by 15 participants, including some children. We released a recently emerged Monarch during the workshop.

Help us Spread the Word on Monarch Discovery Days: I want to close this newsletter by asking for your help in spreading the word to non-members about Monarch Discovery Day events. We are not doing any paid advertising. All of our advertising will be on social networks, primarily on Facebook. You can help by "sharing" what we put on the TMA Facebook page with your "friends," and by word of mouth. Or, forward this newsletter to your friends. I have encountered a number of non-members who want to attract Monarchs and other butterflies to their gardens. Well…they have a great chance to get started with our Fall Milkweed sale.

Thanks to all of you who have helped this summer, especially Barbara Rice and the Monarch Waystation maintenance team. The garden looks great and it is on account of your efforts.

Regards and stay cool. And always, watch for Monarchs!