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This project was made possible by a generous grant from Fido and the Evergreen Foundation, partners in the Share Your Care campaign. We are grateful for their support.

Monarch Waystation project

News and notes

From Journey North, June 19, 2014
"Monarchs flooded into the north central region of their breeding range almost 4 weeks ago. Meanwhile, people in the northeast are still waiting for monarchs to arrive." More

David Suzuki: Help ensure the monarch butterfly's survival
At home you can create a butterfly garden to provide habitat and food for monarchs and other pollinators. Plant milkweed and nectar-producing native flowers, like wild bergamot, New England aster and black-eyed Susans — especially ones with yellow, pink, orange and purple flowers. More

Point Pelee National Park cancels monarch butterfly count
The southern tip of Canada is a critical stopover for the migrating butterflies while they make their 3,000-kilometre journey to the mountains of central Mexico. Clusters of monarchs are typically found keeping warm in tree tops as they prepare for flight across Lake Erie. Hundreds can normally be seen flying across over the water every hour. Not this year. More

Finally - a monarch at the FWG
31 July 2013 - From Christine Hanrahan: This is the first monarch butterfly I've seen this year [at the FWG]. Last year, they were abundant, but this year scarce throughout their range. I can recall seeing, late last August, about 30+ nectaring on the big field of buckwheat flowers. It was quite a sight. This year, well, it is a very different story. I was very happy to see this one! Now we need to keep our eyes open for eggs and larvae on milkweed. See photo

Recent sightings
July 21 - Although no monarchs were found during last Saturday's annual butterfly count, they are finally starting to arrive.

  • April Dore reports one today, flitting between milkweeds and purple coneflowers in her garden
  • Sandy Garland saw one visiting a stand of common milkweed near Calabogie on 20 July
  • Joan Harvey's neighbour had three in her yard recently
  • Colleen O'Connell saw two monarchs on her soulmate (swamp) milkweed today
  • Jean Lauriault says he finally saw a monarch at home today, north of Aylmer - only the second monarch this season

Where are the butterflies?
4 July 2013 - From Jean Lauriault: "What a difference from spring 2012, when monarchs were at my house at the end of May. I've seen my first monarch this year on June 20, near Low Quebec."

From Kathryn Currie - "I haven't seen any monarchs yet in my backyard (Alta Vista) or at the school garden (Orleans). Fritillaries, crescents, painted ladies, cabbies, blues, angle wings, yes. Quite a few mourning cloaks in Gatineau early in spring, but just not the butterfly year like last year."

From Peter Hall: "Just back from five days near Algonquin and sad to say I have seen no monarchs yet this year. Last year on a drive to the same location I regularly saw monarchs flying across the road."

Butterfly Garden opens in Orleans
3 July 2013 - Joan Harvey invited everyone to today's opening of a new monarch waystation at Terry Fox Community Park, Convent Glen North. Councillor Bob Monette cut the ribbon at the event, which also featured butterfly music, cookies, and a butterfly release.

According to Joan, "Just before the opening a monarch flew by. It was perfect timing on its part."

Milkweeds slow this year?
14 May 2013 - Christine reports seeing milkweeds up and growing - 6 inches tall or more - in some of the places she visits regularly in the east end of the city. At the FWG, we haven't seen any shoots except for the healthy plants in our model monarch waystation.

Monarch Larva Monitoring Project
has produced a series of excellent "training videos." They cover everything about monarchs: detailed information about how the larvae grow; measuring milkweed density, rearing monarchs, and migration. Highly recommended to anyone interested in monarch butterflies and their conservation!

Milkweeds for monarch waystations
is a new Facebook group posting information about milkweeds, of course, and other information about monarch butterflies.

Why the monarch butterfly migration may be endangered
CBC report on the latest monarch data. More...

Monarch population lowest ever
Data from the World Wildlife Fund-Mexico and Comisionado Nacional de Areas Naturales Protegidas show a record low for the area occupied by monarch colonies at their overwintering grounds. More...

Monarch Teachers Network 2013 workshop schedule now confirmed.
More...

Chip TaylorMonarch Conservation: the Challenges Ahead - In November 2012, Dr. Chip Taylor (head of MonarchWatch) delivered the annual Quimby F. Hess lecture at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto. He was introduced by Don Davis, Canada's monarch champion. See video on YouTube


More waystations at Ottawa schools - Kate Harrigan reports that the local Monarch Teachers Network has received a grant from TD Friends of the Environment Foundation that will allow them to fund waystations at eight Ottawa schools in spring 2013.


Last monarch of the season Jean Lauriault reports seeing a monarch on Thursday, 25 October 2012, the latest sighting ever at his home in northern Aylmer. Jean also had the earliest monarch sighting on Sunday, 27 May this spring. What a year for monarchs - and butterflies in general!

The massive arrival has begun! It's one of nature's great miracles. Monarchs find a place on the planet where they have never been. This week, explore how the monarchs' arrival is connected to Mexican traditions. from Journey North, Nov. 1, 2012

How high can monarchs fly
"Over two miles high! The highest monarchs ever reported were seen by a glider pilot soaring 11,000 feet above the earth" from Journey North, 4 Oct. 2012

Butterflies begin their journey in a grade 7 classroom (21 September)
On Friday, Shelley MacWhirter talked to the CBC's Ottawa Morning about the monarchs she and her class raised and released this fall. Click here to hear the interview


Seven more caterpillars found in FWG Butterfly Meadow (5 September)
One on butterfly weed, the rest on swamp milkweed. They ranged in length from 3 to 5 cm, so we hope they'll have time to pupate and fly off to Mexico as adults by the end of the month.


Journey North reports that fall migration has started. More


Last instar caterpillars at FWG
Last Wednesday several of our volunteers found 4 large monarch caterpillars in our Backyard Garden. Although we've seen eggs and smaller caterpillars and eggs earlier in the year, we haven't been able to verify that they reached pupal stage. Also exciting, this is the first time we've see monarch caterpillars on and eating butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa). Previously, we've only found them on common and swamp milkweeds and we were beginning to think their attraction to butterfly weed was a myth.

On the weekend, one volunteer reported, "We were at Parc Omega today and there were so many monarch caterpillars. So many different sizes. One was just a about a centimeter and a half and others large with all sizes in between. I've never noticed so many before."
From Journey North (20 June 2012):
Record numbers of monarchs reported in Alberta. A University of Alberta faculty member said of the sightings north of Edmonton, "This might be the farthest-north record for a monarch for a long time (at least since I saw one in about 1977)."
More...

From Kathryn Currie (high school teacher)
"Just to pass on that I saw my second Monarch of the season yesterday (Thursday June 14) by the Kilborn allotment gardens. (First was a week Wednesday, same spot). Milkweed looks ready to burst into bloom! Plants from Fletcher are settling into our school garden. (And we got 29 of 30 or so Painted Lady butterflies from Boreal to emerge successfully, so the kids enjoyed that, released the last ones June 11.)


First monarch at Maitland Garden of Hope
seen 5 June 2012 by Colleen O'Connell and Dave Cybulski.


First monarch at the FWG
was sighted in the Butterfly Meadow on 6 June 2012, about 4 p.m. by Diane Lepage and Sandy Garland.


Plant sale
Our annual native plant sale was a big success despite the rain. Although our common milkweeds were too small to sell, we sold a number of swamp milkweeds and butterfly weed. And met another waystation owner from the Maitland Garden of Hope near Brockville.


Monarch Larva Monitoring Project
is a citizen science project involving volunteers from across the United States and Canada in monarch research. It was developed by researchers at the University of Minnesota to collect long-term data on larval monarch populations and milkweed habitat. The overarching goal of the project is to better understand how and why monarch populations vary in time and space, with a focus on monarch distribution and abundance during the breeding season in North America. The FWG is participating in this project.
Sign-up to monitor


photo by Jean Lauriault

First monarchs here
On 27 May 2012, Jean Lauriault noted 3 monarchs on a patch of chives at his home north of Aylmer - "Never seen this early"! (photo left)


Workshop at FWG

  • Our workshop on Tuesday afternoon, 8 May 2012, gathered together monarch experts Don Davis and Jean Lauriault, eButterfly developer Max Larrivée, monarch waystation creators, and representatives from the Monarch Teachers Network. We had an excellent discussion on a range of topics - from best ways to grow milkweed to the state of the overwintering site in Mexico. Follow-up action:
    • encourage people to report sightings to eButterfly (the FWG has already registered and reports regularly)
    • hold a meeting with NCC and city staff to discuss monarch conservation and how their land management practices affect the monarch population
    • hold a larger public workshop in the fall
    • publicize the Monarch Teachers Network courses in Ottawa this summer and put local teachers in touch with this group
    • track down existing research on growing milkweed
    • compare notes with waystation owners on what plants are best and when to cut milkweed
    Full minutes
  • Experiments with milkweeds are continuing. We're growing 5 species of milkweed this year: common, swamp, butterfly weed, whorled, and poke. We're also investigating germination rates for common and swamp milkweed under a variety of conditions.
  • August 18: Notes from first meeting of the project steering committee (MSWord)
  • Potential FWG goals - extracted by Peter Hall from the North American Monarch Conservation Plan

Background for the project

What we've learned so far

Resources

Links to other monarch conservation efforts


This page was revised 19 June 2014
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