Monarch Waystation Update 8/21/21

Monarch Waystation Update 8/21/21

Monarch Caterpillar photo by Rob Gibbs

The Page Springs Fish Hatchery Visitor Center has been closed to visitors since early in the Covid pandemic.  But that hasn’t stopped a dedicated crew of volunteer gardeners from showing up every week from March to November to maintain the Audubon-sponsored pollinator gardens by the parking lot.  Their hard work and patience have finally paid off.  Last week, a worn and tattered female Monarch found the garden and laid a few hundred tiny cream-colored eggs on four of the five native milkweed species in the garden.  Four days later, the eggs hatched and now the caterpillars are ravenously feeding on the milkweed leaves.  In about another week or so, each caterpillar will leave its milkweed host and crawl around until it finds a suitable place to pupate– something tall like the fence posts or the eaves of the storage container.  Ten days to two weeks later, an adult Monarch will eclose from the chrysalis. The adult will likely feed on all the native nectar-rich garden plants before flying off to find a mate. There is still time for one more generation before the migration begins.  Tagging data show that Monarchs who leave our region from September – November will either fly west to overwinter at coastal preserves in California, or south to mountain preserves in central Mexico.  The wind speed and direction likely dictate which way they end up going.

Monarch Caterpillar photo by Rob Gibbs

The pollinator gardens support several butterfly species as well as bees, hummingbirds, and other pollinators.  All this would not have been possible without support from Audubon, the hatchery staff, and especially the volunteer gardeners. We are looking forward to the day when the gardens are open to the public again.  We all love to share the stories of the pollinators with visitors and watch their eyes light up in amazement.

 

 

Denise Gibbs, Monarch Conservation Specialist, https://www.monarchwatch.org/cs/