Friday October 14, Virginia Living Museum staff Jim Drummond and Bo Baker led a high school trip to Grandview Nature Preserve in Hampton, Va. The preserve borders the Chesapeake Bay on the western shore. They reported seeing 8-10 individual monarchs between 9:30 and 11 am nectaring on Seaside goldenrod at the preserve and trying to fly south but not making much head way. Some monarchs ended up being blown [by prevailing winds out of the west] out into the Chesapeake Bay across the beach where the students were conducting estuarine studies. Weather was overcast all day, occasional drizzle, breezy, barely got into the 70s. But it cleared beginning about 5:30 pm.
Museum Staff member Betsy Wolin was in Hilton Head S.C. over this sunny, breezy weekend to visit relatives. She reports she was walking north for 2 miles on the beach Saturday, October 15 from about 8 am to about 8:45 am, and during that walk she counted 63 butterflies moving south past her. The butterflies were mostly monarchs [~55 of them] and the rest were fritillaries that would stop here and there. Many flowers on properties adjacent to the beach attracted butterflies. All weekend there were patches of sulphur and buckeye butterflies nectaring on all the flowers around, as well as monarchs.
I also noticed more "action" at my flowers this Saturday, October 15 as well, I was able to tag 3 monarchs that stopped to nectar on my butterfly bush in Newport News, Virginia, and that's the most I've seen in one place at one time. My garden is a ways inland from the western shore of the Bay, on the peninsula between the York and James Rivers.
At the museum, we've been tagging and releasing both reared and wild monarchs since September 15th. We have 2 that will be released today, 3 that will be released tomorrow, and only one more chrysalis is left to hatch. It looks like we'll have tagged just shy of 100 monarchs this season by this week's end.
Several people reported to me at the Butterfly Society of Virginia meeting in Norfolk on October 9th that they are still rearing monarch caterpillars as of that date in Norfolk and Virginia Beach, Va. Talk about "pushing the envelop!" Our horticulture staff found one caterpillar on thread-leaf milkweed, which is one of the few milkweeds still left standing on museum grounds. We're letting nature take its course on that one. I hope these late monarchs make it. We've had a mild September with no real strong cold fronts, so depending on how warm October is, they may be OK, or not.
Best of luck to all!
Virginia Living Museum
Personal Waystation #271
Beta tester at
Monarch Waystation #299