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The Wrack

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

Posts tagged monarchs

  • Decision Time

    | November 27, 2019 | Filed under: Opinion

    Even small choices can be big decisions, but we must all make them every day.

  • Monarch Rescue 2019

    | August 23, 2019 | Filed under: Program Activities

    Reserve educators and volunteers conduct their ninth Monarch Rescue!

  • Good News for Monarchs!

    | August 16, 2017 | Filed under: Observations

    Monarch Rescue 2017 saves more monarchs than ever

  • Monarch Rescue 2016

    | August 26, 2016

    The Reserve held its sixth annual Monarch Rescue yesterday! Two education staff and seventeen wonderfully enthusiastic volunteers of all ages set out in search of monarch butterfly eggs and caterpillars in fields that will be mowed within the next couple of weeks. Select Reserve fields are mowed each year in an effort to maintain this vital habitat, rather than allow it to eventually grow into forest. The mowing also serves to keep invasive plant species in check.

    Monarch caterpillars

    Each year since 2010 (with the exception of 2011, when no rescue was conducted), the Monarch Rescue teams were tasked with combing the fields while inspecting individual milkweed plants to look for signs of monarchs. Any found eggs and caterpillars were then brought to a field not slated for mowing that year. Milkweed leaves with eggs on the underside were stapled to secure milkweed leaf undersides. Caterpillars were moved to secure milkweed plants. The graph below shows the number of eggs and caterpillars found during each of the six rescues.

    Monarch Rescue Data

  • Helping to Make Monarchs More Than a Memory

    Wells Reserve Contributor | October 7, 2015

    Monarch caterpillar on milkweedThree years ago I observed a magical happening while on a drive along Ocean Avenue in Kennebunkport. Suddenly I was surrounded by what appeared to be a veritable storm of brightly colored pieces of paper fluttering past me. Upon stopping I saw that these were monarchs gathering in the Rosa rugosa at the water’s edge. There was a strong onshore breeze and they were flying about, hesitant to launch over the open water.

  • Monarch Rescue 2015

    | September 4, 2015

    The Reserve's annual late summer effort to save monarch eggs, caterpillars, and chrysalises from the mowers that cut our fields happened last week. The mowing is essential in preventing the fields from growing into forests over time, and also as a management strategy for invasive species.

    Monarch rescued

    Thanks so much to the eleven volunteers who spent several hours in the warm sunshine combing the ubiquitous milkweed plants for signs of monarchs! We saved 38 caterpillars of all sizes, removing them from the fields that will be mowed within the coming weeks to fields that will not be mowed this year. The smallest of the caterpillars measured less than one inch in length, whereas the largest were several inches long. A handful of monarch butterflies were spotted fluttering over the fields during the rescue mission, providing hope that some of the rescued caterpillars will also reach adulthood.

  • Hope on Four Wings

    Wells Reserve Contributor | August 3, 2015

    Empty Chrysalis

    Sometime between this past Friday evening and Saturday morning, the copper beech tree chrysalis shell was abandoned, and a monarch took to the sky! This monarch will most likely continue the northward path of its parents — monarchs take 3-4 generations to reach their northernmost extent in the summer migration. Perhaps the offspring of this monarch will make the journey, over 2,000 miles, to the same branches of oyamel fir trees of Mexican mountains that their great-great grandparents overwintered on last year.

  • Emerald Jewel on Copper Beech

    Wells Reserve Contributor | July 16, 2015

    Monarch butterflyWe listen to the rain patter against the roof of leaves of the wise old copper beech tree as campers and I munch lunch. The vast canopy gives the impression of a complete ceiling of wood and leaves, but campers are able to look closely and discover something remarkably unique.

  • Butterflies of the Wells Reserve

    | February 18, 2014 | Filed under: Observations

    Often showy but frequently cryptic, butterflies are an attractive challenge. At least 45 species have been documented at the Wells Reserve.

  • Monarch Rescue 2013

    | 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.