Monarch Watch Blog

Milkweeds – place orders now

19 November 2012 | Author: Chip Taylor

monarch on milkweedGreetings: I need to get milkweeds off my mind (all that latex is messing up my brain) and into the ground.

I spend a lot of time trying to figure out how to build a market for milkweeds and it’s going slowly – poco a poco as they in Spanish speaking countries. We need to make more progress. Our impact is still too small. We have some long range plans but they are still long range and we need to ramp up the milkweed plantings in the near term.

Thanks to many of you, we have seed – lots of it for most of the northeast (from MN to MA) and Texas and now we need orders for plugs. That’s where you can help.

We are working with a grower who produces terrific milkweed plugs, mostly for delivery in May but, we are going to try to have some ready for April. The plugs come in flats of 32 and are generally 3-4″ high, although incarnata (swamp milkweed is taller) and will cost about $1.80 each delivered (i.e., $57.60/flat with shipping included). The minimum order is one flat. Smaller plants in 72 unit cell trays (flats) will be available for some early April orders for a lower cost per plant. The shipping boxes hold two flats. So, it is a little less costly to order two flats at a minimum.

To have plants of optimal size for shipping in April and May, they need to be started in January and we need to have orders by December.

The question is: can you help us with these orders? We are trying to connect with native plant societies, nature centers, zoos and botanical gardens, master naturalists, master gardeners, and restoration projects – just about anybody that would be interested in distributing milkweeds through plant fundraisers or other means.

We use geographically-appropriate seed sources for the production of plugs and we do not supply tropical milkweeds.

For most of the northeast we have A. syriaca (common), A. incarnata (swamp), and A. tuberosa (butterflyweed) and for Texas we have A. viridis (green antelope horn) and A. asperula (antelope horn) and possibly A. oenotheroides (zizotes). We have seeds for some other species and regions as well. Please contact us if you have questions.

If you can connect us with buyers, that would be very helpful. Please send all inquiries, comments, or suggestions to us via Monarch Watch’s Bring Back the Monarchs campaign at bbtm@monarchwatch.org

Thank you for your help.

Chip
P.S. Monarch Watch does not benefit financially from these arrangements.

Chip Taylor
Director, Monarch Watch

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Chip in for Monarch Watch

21 August 2012 | Author: admin


The 2012 “Chip in for Monarch Watch” Fundraising Campaign is now underway! Please help us spread the word about this annual campaign which brings in funds to keep Monarch Watch’s education, conservation and research programs going…and growing!

If you are in a position to offer financial support to Monarch Watch (or if you know someone who might be), please consider making a fully tax-deductible donation of any amount during our 2012 “Chip in for Monarch Watch” fundraising campaign.

Visit monarchwatch.org/chip for more information or to submit your pledge and tax-deductible donation. Be sure to check out the comments and photos submitted by other donors – we are continually amazed by the connections that are made through monarchs and Monarch Watch.

Last year’s campaign was a huge success, raising more than $31,000 – think we can top that this year? smiley

Complete campaign details at: monarchwatch.org/chip

Thank you for your continued support!

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Monarch Population Status

20 August 2012 | Author: Chip Taylor

In early July I wrote the text for the pre-migration newsletter that goes out with the tagging kits in which I stated that there was no real basis for making a prediction about the size of the fall migratory population:

“If there is sufficient rainfall and normal to above normal temperatures in the northern breeding range through August, the migratory population may be the largest since 2003 – perhaps 6-7 hectares. On the other hand, a continuation of the extreme heat and drought conditions could result in another overwintering population in the 2-3 hectare range – well below the long-term average of 7 hectares.”

It is now clear that fall population will be on the low side with an overwintering population close to 3 hectares once again. I don’t need to tell you that the summer was hot and dry – too hot and dry in many areas for good monarch reproduction. We have received many comments on the poor quality of the milkweed available to monarchs for the last generation. In eastern Kansas, where the drought ranges from extreme to exceptional, milkweeds, even blue vine (Cynanchum laeve), suitable for egg laying, are scarce. The best areas for the production of fall migrants appear to be northwest and central Minnesota, northern Wisconsin and Michigan, and much of New England. Reports from New England suggest that the number of monarchs passing through Cape May will be higher than normal this fall. Elsewhere, we can expect the number of fall migrants to be similar to that seen over the last several years.

The low number of nectar sources that will be available to monarchs moving through the lower Midwest in September is a concern. Some fall flowers have already bloomed, some have died and many of the others are stunted and just barely alive. There will be nectar but it will be harder for the monarchs to find. Rain in the areas of Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Iowa, Arkansas, and Illinois over the next three weeks could make a big difference in the proportion of the fall migrants that reach Mexico.

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Monarch Tagging Kits

20 August 2012 | Author: admin

Tags for the 2012 fall tagging season are still available but going fast – more than 75% of this year’s tags have been claimed to date. If you would to tag monarchs this year, please order your tags as soon as possible.

Monarch Watch Tagging Kits are only shipped to areas east of the Rocky Mountains. As usual, each tagging kit includes a set of specially manufactured monarch butterfly tags (you specify quantity), a datasheet, tagging instructions, and additional monarch / migration information. Tagging Kits for the 2012 season start at only $15 and include your choice of 25, 50, 100, 200, 300, or 500 tags.

Monarch Watch Tagging Kits and other materials (don’t forget to pick up a butterfly net!) are available via the Monarch Watch Shop online at shop.monarchwatch.org – where each purchase helps support Monarch Watch.

Datasheets and instructions for the 2012 season are also available online at monarchwatch.org/tagging

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Monarch Population Status

30 July 2012 | Author: Chip Taylor

A year like no other…

There has been no year in the 117 years of climate records for the United States that matches what we have all experienced in the last 12 months. We have been tracking how monarchs are affected by climate for a number of years and there have been obvious patterns, like cooler March temperatures in Texas are associated with larger overwintering populations in Mexico. Similarly, warmer May temperatures are more favorable since they favor re-colonization of the northern breeding areas. Also, warmer summers in the northern breeding range are better for monarch production.

This year, however, is off the charts. March was the warmest recorded in Texas – not a good start based on past records. May was also warm, allowing monarchs to move into the northern breeding areas earlier by two to three weeks and in numbers that were unprecedented. Early arrival in the north in the past has been associated with population declines but in those years the average summer temperatures were in the normal range. This summer is starting out to be different from other summers with June temperatures exceeding the norm over most of the northern breeding area. What will happen this year with early arrivals followed by a warm summer, possibly one of the hottest summers ever recorded?

Not only has it been warm, it’s been hot and dry – perhaps too hot and dry for good monarch reproduction. And, then there are the milkweeds and nectar plants to consider. Plants grew rapidly this spring with many species blooming 10-30 days earlier than normal. Plants that typically flower in the fall began blooming in June and reports continue of water stressed plants blooming early. Milkweeds were no exception with flowering being earlier almost everywhere, raising the question as to what their condition they will be in the last week of July and the first week of August when most of the eggs are laid that produce the migratory generation. If the milkweeds are past their prime, and are senescing, will this diminish the size of the last generation?

There are also questions as to whether large numbers of monarchs overshot (that is, flew beyond) the limits of milkweed. Unprecedented numbers of monarchs have been reported from the Prairie Provinces of Canada where milkweeds are scarce, from the Maritime Provinces where monarchs are usually few, and even from Newfoundland, an area with virtually no milkweed. As you can see, there are many questions but little basis for making a prediction as to the size of the fall migration. If there is sufficient rainfall and normal to above normal temperatures (+/-80F) in the northern breeding area through August, the migratory population may be the largest since 2003 – perhaps 6-7 hectares. On the other hand, a continuation of the extreme heat and drought conditions, a track that seems equally likely, could result in another overwintering population in the 2-3 hectare range – well below the long-term average of 7 hectares.

Filed under Monarch Migration, Monarch Population Status | 2 Comments »

Our Amazon Earnings – 2012 Q2

8 July 2012 | Author: Jim Lovett

As you may already know, you can help support Monarch Watch with each purchase at Amazon.com and Endless.com (Amazon’s specialized Shoe and Handbag store). Monarch Watch earns a small referral fee equal to 4-15% of the item total when you use the links available on our site to visit these online stores.

In the second quarter of 2012 (Q2, April-June) 765 items were ordered in support of Monarch Watch, earning our program $1115.58!

A complete list of items will be available for those that are curious to see what folks are buying to support Monarch Watch. (Note: No personal information is tied to purchases; that is, we do not know who purchased the items below, only that the items were purchased via the link(s) from our site and therefore in support of our program.)

amazon stats graph

Since February 2009, 5589 items have been ordered – earning $8692.56 for Monarch Watch!

Thank you to everyone who contributed to these numbers – remember to stop by our site first whenever you shop online!

Complete details are available at monarchwatch.org/amazon

Please help us by spreading the word to friends, family, coworkers, and any other Amazon.com or Endless.com shoppers you can think of – thank you for your continued support!

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Monarch Population Status

12 June 2012 | Author: admin

What a spring it’s been – the warmest in 117 years of record keeping and the warmest 12 months ever recorded in the United States. In response to the warm conditions the plants and insects have made early appearances. Some plants bloomed 6 weeks early, others a more modest 2 weeks. Most insects appear to have kept pace including monarchs that arrived 2-3 weeks early over most of the northern breeding range – raising the possibility of a large fall migration – maybe the last big migration this decade.

Climatologists are telling us that hotter summers with strong droughts are ahead and that won’t be good for monarchs. Habitat decline will continue as well so, let’s tag while we can. We have ordered tags for the 2012 tagging season and the orders are coming in rapidly. If you would to tag this fall, please order your tags early. If your fellow monarch enthusiasts see a large migration shaping up, we are likely to be out of tags by the 1st of September. Please place your order now so as not to be disappointed.

Monarch Watch Tagging Kits are only shipped to areas east of the Rocky Mountains.

As usual, each tagging kit includes a set of specially manufactured monarch butterfly tags (you specify quantity), a datasheet, tagging instructions, and additional monarch / migration information. Tagging Kits for the 2012 season start at only $15 and include your choice of 25, 50, 100, 200, 300, or 500 tags.

Monarch Watch Tagging Kits and other materials (don’t forget to pick up a butterfly net!) are available via the Monarch Watch Shop online at Shop.MonarchWatch.org

Filed under Monarch Population Status, Monarch Tagging | 1 Comment »

Tag Recovery Database Updated

30 May 2012 | Author: Jim Lovett

The Monarch Watch Tag Recovery Database (monarchwatch.org/recoveries) has been updated – more than 16,000 records now, in a searchable format. Check to see if any of your tags were recovered in Mexico this year :-)

Tip: to generate a list of all tags reported to us this year, simply select 2012 from the “Year” dropdown menu in the “Recovery Information” section and hit the “Submit” button.

recovery database search

Thanks to all of you who have participated in the tagging program and to those who have contributed to the tag recovery fund. These contributions are needed since we compensate the ejido members in Mexico who search for the tags among the dead butterflies beneath the colonies. And, thanks to many people who helped acquire the tags in Mexico in our – and your – behalf.

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First Monarch Butterfly of the Year

9 April 2012 | Author: Chip Taylor

Margarete Johnson spotted a monarch butterfly yesterday (8 April) while gardening in Monarch Waystation #1 here at Monarch Watch (Lawrence, KS).

Margarete beat me by a day.

This morning I spotted a faded female monarch while walking the dog in western Douglas County, KS (6 miles east of Berryton, KS).

My earliest sighting over the years occurred on the 7th of April – an event that was followed by an April storm that took out the roof of our greenhouse and froze all manner of early bloom or leafyness and no doubt that early monarch.

The extended forecast through the 3rd of May indicates that overnight temperatures will be above normal for 23/24 days. There is no frost in sight and our last frost was on the 9th of March (the mean day of last frost for this area is 15 April). The season is off to an unusual start, one that should benefit monarchs and butterflies in general – at least in eastern KS. We are already seeing numerous butterfly species that originate from TX. Yesterday, the flow of red admirals through this area was quite exceptional. I have already seen more swallowtails than I saw all of last year. We just need about an inch of rain a week to keep things on track…

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Our Amazon Earnings – 2012 Q1

3 April 2012 | Author: admin

As you may already know, you can help support Monarch Watch with each purchase at Amazon.com and Endless.com (Amazon’s specialized Shoe and Handbag store). Monarch Watch earns a small referral fee equal to 4-15% of the item total when you use the links available on our site to visit these online stores.

In the first quarter of 2012 (Q1, January-March) 669 items were ordered in support of Monarch Watch, earning our program $1030.74!

A complete list of items will be available for those that are curious to see what folks are buying to support Monarch Watch. (Note: No personal information is tied to purchases; that is, we do not know who purchased the items below, only that the items were purchased via the link(s) from our site and therefore in support of our program.)

amazon stats graph

Since February 2009, 4824 items have been ordered – earning $7576.98 for Monarch Watch!

Thank you to everyone who contributed to these numbers – remember to stop by our site first whenever you shop online!

Complete details are available at monarchwatch.org/amazon

Please help us by spreading the word to friends, family, coworkers, and any other Amazon.com or Endless.com shoppers you can think of – thank you for your continued support!

Filed under amazon.com | No Comments »