Think of the fall and you’ll undoubtedly think of harvesting, planting, and carving Jack-O-Lanterns, but the fall also marks a very special migration, that of the Monarch Butterfly.
Like other butterflies, the Monarch goes through a life cycle and is easy to identify as both a caterpillar (with those unmistakable black & white stripes) and an adult, with its striking orange and black wings. The Monarch’s favorite food source, the Milkweed plant, is essential to its survival as a caterpillar. Milkweed can be found throughout the Parklands of Floyds Fork, making our habitat a great place for Monarch watching this season.
Unlike other butterflies, from August to November the Monarch undergoes a yearly migration from cooler climates up North to the warmer climates of California and Mexico, sometimes traveling up to 3,000 miles. The journey is long, and like birds, Monarchs use the wind to soar or glide to conserve energy during the migration, in addition to making frequent stops along the way to roost or eat. These moments make for great opportunities to spot the butterflies during their trip.
This fall, see if you can spot Monarchs in migration – look for Monarchs on milkweed plants, or groups of roosting Monarchs resting in a cluster. If you happen to see a Monarch in flight, observe its pattern; a migrating Monarch will fly in one direction (rather than “fluttering” around).
If you’d like to learn more about Monarch Butterflies and their migration, visit Journey North (http://www.learner.org/jnorth/monarch/index.html) an online Citizen Science Program dedicated to tracking the migration of wildlife around the World.
We hope to see some Monarch Watchers in The Parklands this season!
Kim Allgeier is a seasoned education professional with more than 10 years’ experience designing programs in a variety of informal education settings. Allgeier served as Education and Interpretation Manager for The Parklands for two years. Her expertise was critical in developing and implementing the enriching educational programs that are the core of The Parklands of Floyds Fork mission. Allgeier is a graduate of Western Kentucky University where she studied history and library media education.
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