The Wrack

The Wrack is the Wells Reserve blog, our collective logbook on the web.

Monarch Rescue 2013

Posted by | September 9, 2013

Several weeks ago, a dedicated group of volunteers set out into the milkweed fields to rescue monarch eggs and caterpillars, just before the Reserve's annual mowing. This is the third annual Monarch Rescue effort, and this year the results were sobering. After nearly three hours of searching the undersides of milkweed leaves, our team of fourteen only came up with two caterpillars (and one already empty monarch egg case). In 2010, 37 eggs and 25 caterpillars were rescued by our team, and in 2012 we rescued 90 eggs and 22 caterpillars (we didn't have a Rescue in 2011).

monarch rescue

Scientists in the monarch's wintering grounds in Mexico documented a 59 percent decrease in butterflies last year. Loss of habitat, drought, the use of pesticides, and climate change are all thought to play a role.

Despite the lack of monarchs during the Monarch Rescue this year, our team saved lots of other critters, including snails, spiders, beetles, a ladybug larva, stinkbug, and twelve (!) tussolk moth caterpillars. All of these fascinating creatures were released in a field that will not be mowed this year.

What can be done?

We can all plant more milkweed habitat, write to our elected officials, and participate in the next Monarch Rescue in August of 2014!

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