As most of you know, the summer of 2015 produced a strong migration and a relatively large overwintering population (4.01 hectares).
Unfortunately, all the data to this point in time suggest that this year will be a repeat of 2014, with a significant decline in the migration and the overwintering numbers. While the overwintering population may not be as low as 2014 (1.13 hectares), the overwintering numbers for 2016 are unlikely to exceed 2 hectares. Summer temperatures throughout the breeding area are projected to be close to normal and that should favor population growth.
There are no extreme conditions on the horizon though local droughts could impact the population in some areas. The problem this year seems to be the low numbers of first generation monarchs moving north in May and early June. As best I can tell, these numbers are quite similar to those reported in 2014.
First sightings reported to Journey North for Texas in March and April were lower than normal this spring with numbers closer to 2013 than 2014 and, while it is difficult to make strong inferences from first sightings, they do provide an indication of how many monarchs are returning from the overwintering sites in Mexico. The lower numbers this spring may reflect the mortality that occurred at the colony sites as a consequence of the sleet storm that occurred from the 8-9th of March. Although some monarchs had left the colonies before the storm, many remained. Mortality estimates varied from observer to observer and from colony to colony with the highest rate of mortality being 50% for El Rosario, the colony with the greatest number of monarchs. We will never have a comprehensive assessment of the impact of this weather event but it does appear to have been significant.
The low return could well have led to low numbers moving north in May and June but the conditions in the May-June interval were less than favorable for northward movement. Monarchs generally arrived later than normal in the breeding areas with many locations reporting extremely low numbers of sightings or eggs for periods when monarchs are normally present.”
Mini - ID Workshop on Butterflies, Pollinators and Butterfly Garden Plants: Join us next Saturday, August 13, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Kiwanis Park for a walk around the park and Monarch Waystation learning to identify butterflies, other pollinators and the perfect butterfly garden plants to put into your butterfly garden or Monarch Waystation. TMA experts will be on-site to guide you.
Fall Milkweed and Monarch Waystation Plant Sale: I am very pleased that our arrangement with Sunny Meadows Garden Center is maturing. Save the date, September 17, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. We will be offering two beautiful milkweed varieties, Butterfly Weed and Swamp Milkweed, and Sunny Meadows will be selling our plant list of 20 pesticide-free perennial plants. TMA members will be offered a special price. This will come in the form of a coupon that I will send out with the plant list later this month.
Ethan Weber, the proprietor, and a great supporter of our efforts, drove me to the greenhouse to inspect the plants. They look great. They are in "quart" containers (which are actually about 2/3 of a quart. But the plants have been growing in the pots for some time.
Spread the word to your friends and let them know they can get the member price by joining us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
September Monarch Discovery Days: Mid-September is the peak time for Monarchs in our area, according to the chart from Monarch Watch, so we have planned a week of Monarch activities to celebrate their arrival:
Saturday, September 3 at Discovery Station, Hagerstown, from 1 p.m., we will have a Lego Monarch Robotics exhibit. Bring the kids and move the robot from Mexico to Texas in search of milkweed and around the migration map hoping to survive the year. They will also show the acclaimed film, "Journey of the Monarchs."
Sunday, September 4 at the Antietam National Battlefield, from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m., chase around the Otto Farm looking for Monarchs to capture, tag and release with park biologist, Chris Tawney.
Saturday, September 10 at Kiwanis Park, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., see Dave Kaplan and Paul and Tammy Needy do a demonstration on tagging Monarch Butterflies.
Saturday, September 10 at the National Conservation Training Center from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m., another opportunity to chase after Monarchs, capture, tag and release them with NCTC biologist and TMA member, Tracy McCleaf. This program will require registration at the Potomac Valley Audubon's website.
Saturday, September 17 at the Hager House, City Park, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Dave and the Needys will be back again to do another tagging demonstration.
Saturday, September 17 at Sunny Meadows Garden Center, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., we will be selling milkweed and Monarch Waystation plants to the public, with special pricing for TMA members.
The Kiwanis Park Monarch Waystation looks great, thanks to all of the TMA members that are helping Barbara Rice, deadheading plants and pulling weeds.
Our Butterfly Count at the Antietam National Battlefield last Saturday got rained out. We have rescheduled it for tomorrow, August 6, but rain is again in the forecast. Those who have registered with PVAS will be informed if the event is cancelled again.
The TMA Facebook Page: I try to avoid sending emails out to our members during the month, unless something truly important is going on. But I try to keep members up to date on our FB page, which you can find at: https://www.facebook.com/theMonarchAlliance/?ref=br_rs
Have a great summer,