Although there was initially a shortage of mature milkweed due to an early spring and a barage of Monarch butterflies, 2012 was another very good year for rearing monarchs.
This was my 44th year raising monarch butterflies. My final count was 377 monarchs raised successfully this year. I had 11 chrysalis total that for a variety of reasons did not make it, putting my 2012 rearing success rate at 97.1% (slightly higher than last year).
I found several new milkweed sites ("sources") this year, which came in handy when I had several caterpillars and not too many milkweed leaves from current sources. I tagged more milkweed plants this year to prevent public works and others from hacking down or otherwise destroying the plants. And I am happy I was able to educate more people about the importance of conserving milkweed, Monarch butterflies, and our valuable ecosystems in general. Stewardship is our duty, but it is also an honor and a privilege.
I did have more problems this year with tachinid parasites, but by raising more monarchs from eggs I was able to pretty much eliminate those problems.
Last year staff at the University of Minnesota's Monarch Larva Monitoring Project
(MLMP) requested I write an article for their monthly newsletter on rearing monarchs. Over the last 44 years I have discovered a lot of successful ways to rear healthy monarchs, and I am very pleased to share my tips on this with everyone: please check out my articles (Raising Flutters, The Sad Little Strip) at http://mlmp.org/Newsletter/monthly
and click on November to read the articles.
I also had the unplanned opportunity to do a small but interesting experiment with monarch eggs exposed to Garlon 3 herbicide in our area. Out of the 5 eggs exposed to this herbicide, only 2 made it to the butterfly stage - not my usual high success rate for monarchs raised from eggs. I feel that Garlon 3, as well as other "treatments" being sprayed in our environment, are harmful not only to our insect and creature populations but to our children, pets, and ourselves, as well.
Did you know Minnesota has a department of Mosquito Control?? Their website shows where the spray-check it out, you will be surprised (and not in a good way!)
The annual Minneapolis Monarch Festival was held at Lake Nokomis on September 7th this year. This is a huge festival celebrating, honoring, and providing education about the Monarch butterflies. Next year it will be held September 8th.
Check out their website at http://monarchfestival.org
There is an interesting site in Hastings, Minnesota you may want to check out next year. Located next to the Dakota County Government Center off Highway 55 and General Sieben Drive is a large area that is currently a nature preserve, with hundreds (and I do mean hundreds!) of milkweed, as well as native flowers and plantings. My jaw dropped when I first saw it! Some of my milkweed (and egg) sources are in Hastings, so do check it out. Hastings also has a fun Farmer's Market (Tuesday and Saturday mornings for the season), a great chocolate old-fashioned local chocolate shop called Creative Confectionaire (chocolate, fudge, ice cream and other specialties), and now a new bridge being installed.
Hope everyone had a great rearing year, and "I hope you fly"!
Como Park, Minnesota