Post 1: Quick Monarch Count Update

Today I am posting two blogs. The reason? Tomorrow, I host the Poetry Friday Round Up! What does tomorrow have to do with today? It has to do with the Poetry Friday participants that are down under and other places a day a head of the United States across the globe. I’ll post for Poetry Friday early this evening. Stop back if you are interested in joining the round up or just reading some great poetry!

Newly released Monarch. © Carol Labuzzetta, 2021.

This morning I thought I’d just offer a quick monarch count update. As of today, I have released 18 hand-raised monarch butterflies. I also have six tiny, stage one caterpillars, five chrysalises, one stage three instar larva, and three eggs (still outside on rose milkweed in my yard) that I’m monitoring. I have not started to tag yet. I might start to apply tags with the next butterfly that ecloses from its pupa. It might even be today – I have one that looks like it’s close to emergence. The wing pigments are visible through the chrysalis this morning.

Video of Instar Stage 5 larva becoming a pupa (Chrysalis) taken earlier this month. © Carol Labuzzetta, 2021.

This has been a better monarch raising season for me than last year. Still, I’ve had a few failures. Recently, I’ve had three chrysalises that did not develop and several lost caterpillars, earlier in the season. These failures always make me step back and reassess my practices. My containers get cleaned throughly and I examine my milkweed more carefully. I also make sure I wash my hands before handling the monarch’s living containers and try to minimize any handling of the monarch larva. Loss is part of life. I know that but, essentially, we are interfering with a natural process in the raising of monarchs. I keep my numbers low, and use what I raise for educational purposes like teaching a group of students at a WisCorps nature camp last week.

My monarch “lab” a few years ago. © Carol Labuzzetta, 2021

I also have to realize that not everyone is interested in this process or in the citizen science that goes along with it. I’m due to run a class in September and have yet to attract an adequate number of participants. This makes me sad. Hopefully, there will be more signing up as the date approaches.

Tags arrive in a bright yellow envelope. © Carol Labuzzetta, 2016.

Lastly, I got my e-update newsletter from Monarch Watch yesterday. In it, Chip Taylor explains some of the limiting factors he expects will affect monarch migration this year. Of interest was the changing climate. Wetter than usual weather in Texas and Arizona might bode for more monarchs joining the migration later this fall. While on the other hand, hotter and drier weather in the Dakotas and Western Minnesota will yield fewer migrating monarchs from there. It will be interesting to see how the overwintering season pans out for 2021-2022.

Ready to survey. Photo credit: Charlie Labuzzetta, 2021.

I was able to visit my assigned parcel for performing a monarch survey yesterday. It is on a ridge top in West-Central Wisconsin, in the Driftless Area of our state about an hour south of where I live. There were no monarchs to be seen. But, then again, the field is full of soybean! I hope next year will be different after it has been planted with milkweed. Time will tell.

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