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The Wrack

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

Monarchs Rescued!

Posted by | August 22, 2012

Last week, a group of sixteen devoted volunteers set to work to rescue the eggs and caterpillars of the Monarch Butterfly. Within the next week or two, many of the fields at the Wells Reserve at Laudholm will be mowed. Annual mowing of select fields is necessary to prevent important field habitat from growing up into forests, and to combat the spread of invasive species. The mowing is done in late summer, after field nesting birds like the Bobolink have finished rearing their young.

Monarch caterpillar

This year's group of rescuers shepherded ninety eggs and twenty-two caterpillars to a field that will not be mowed this year. The volunteers spent two hours combing several fields of milkweed, the only plant that Monarch caterpillars will eat. Each leaf of each plant was carefully examined, and those that had an egg or caterpillar attached were collected. The next hour was spent tallying the eggs and caterpillars, and releasing them. The leaves with eggs were stapled to existing milkweed plants so that they would not blow away in strong winds. In addition to the Monarchs, five Tussock Moth caterpillars (who also live in milkweed habitat), one katydid, and two snails were rescued. The Monarch Rescue is an annual event, so if you missed it this year, be sure to join us in 2013! Many thanks to our team of volunteers!

Tallying rescued monarchs

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