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On the 29th of February I announced the “Milkweed and Monarch Phenology Project“. I was a bit vague about the details but can now tell you that Monarch Watch is working with the National Phenology Network (NPN) to record the phenology of milkweeds and nectar plants used by monarch butterflies.
By the end of the month NPN will have a new web page and the plants we wish to track for monarchs will be incorporated into their lists of plants that are being tracked nationwide. Finding the milkweeds and nectar plants in this list won’t be too difficult but the whole process of recording the monarch plants will become easier by the first of May when NPN completes an interface page that is designed specifically for Monarch Watch and monarch butterfly plants.
For further justification of the need to record the phenology of plants, insects, and birds, please see “Global Warming Rushes Timing of Spring” (ABC News).
As I mentioned in my original posting on this topic, to generate the data needed to make useful comparisons from year to year, we need hundreds of monarch watchers, and those of you with Monarch Waystations, throughout the country to record your observations. This project is a great one for kids. We need to get our young people to become aware of what is happening seasonally and to our planet.
Since you won’t be able to enter your data at the NPN website until the end of the month, please keep notes on the first emergence of milkweeds and first buds, etc. for now. I’ll announce when it is possible to record your data on the NPN website.