Category Archives: Monarch butterfly conservation speaker

LEMONDROPS – MORE BEAUTIES ON THE WING!

Fresh drops of spritely lemon flitting from flower to flower, the Clouded Sulphur is another beauty often seen drinking nectar alongside Monarch’s during the M’s epic migration southward.

At this time of year, late summer/early autumn butterflies find nectar at native asters, goldenrods, and non-native Black Mustard, along with a variety of garden flowers that have an extended blooming period. Clouded Sulphurs have a special fondness for Zinnia elegans, the straight species, not the over-hybridized, overly ruffled variety, where they may have difficulty finding nectar in the obscured center of the flower.

Clouded Sulphur caterpillars eat Alfalfa (Medicago sativa), White Clover (Trifolium repens),sweet clovers (Melilotus spp.) and vetches (Viceia, spp.).

Please join us for a free live premiere of Beauty on the Wing: Life Story of the Monarch Butterfly at the Shalin Liu on Thursday, September 23rd, at 7pm. I hope to see you there! Masks are required to be worn at all times while in the hall. For more information go here. Presented by the Boston Film Festival and Rockport Music.

VIBRANT TANGERINE ORANGE BUTTERFLY ON THE WING!

Please join us for a free live premiere of Beauty on the Wing: Life Story of the Monarch Butterfly at the Shalin Liu on Thursday, September 23rd, at 7pm. I hope to see you there! Masks are required to be worn at all times while in the hall. For more information go here. Presented by the Boston Film Festival and Rockport Music.

Orange Sulphur Butterfly on the Wing!

The vibrantly beautiful male Orange Sulphur Butterfly was spotted on our shoreline, flitting from flower to flower along a stand of Black Mustard. No other butterfly of New England flashes that beautiful shade of tangerine when in flight. The females are considerably paler with wings in shades ranging from white to buttery yellow.

The Orange Sulphur Butterfly is seen from coast to coast, from southern Canada to central Mexico. I most often observe them at the edge of marshes and in fields where clovers grow.

Male Orange Sulphur Butterfly

Orange Sulphurs drink nectar from many types of flowers including milkweeds, dandelions, asters, and goldenrods.

The caterpillars eat a wide variety of plants in the Legume Family, both native and introduced. Favorite host plants (caterpillar food plants) include Alfalfa (Medicago sativa), White Clover (Trifolium repens), and White Sweet Clover Melilotus alba).

MONARCHS MATING AND DEPOSITING EGGS IN SEPTEMBER!

Unusual, but not unheard of, every year during the Monarch’s annual southward migration, I come across a pair, sometimes two, that are mating. This year was no exception. The butterflies apparently did not get the 411 that they are supposed to be migrating, not mating! The Monarchs that eclose (emerge from their chrysalides) at the end of the summer are the Methuselah Monarchs, or a super generation of Monarchs. These Super Monarchs eclose in a state of sexual immaturity, or diapause. Rather than expending energy looking for a mate and egg laying, they spend all their days drinking nectar and building their fat reserves for the long journey south. They are often a bit larger than their counterparts that emerge earlier in the summer and they are biologically oriented to fly southward. Methuselah Monarchs live about eight months, nearly eight times longer than the spring and early summer Monarchs. They are called Methuselah Monarchs  after the Biblical patriarch who is said to have lived 969 years.

While joined together, abdomen to abdomen, the mating Monarchs flew into a neighboring tree.

Occasionally though individuals are reproductively active. I often wondered what happens to the Monarchs that mate in September. Do they lay eggs, will the eggs hatch, and will the caterpillars complete metamorphosis?

Female Monarch depositing eggs on Common Milkweed, September 13, 2021

The first question has been answered. A beautiful female, apparently newly emerged, with vibrant fully intact wings, arrived in our garden and laid dozens and dozens of eggs. I  placed many, but not all, of the eggs in our terrariums. Will these eggs hatch? We’ll know within the next week or so. I’ll keep you posted on these late September babes. If they go through their entire life cycle, they won’t be ready to fly off for another five weeks or thereabouts. The butterflies most likely will not make it to Mexico, but may journey as far as Florida, where they will spend the cooler months.

Four eggs on one leaf!

Please join us for a free live premiere of Beauty on the Wing: Life Story of the Monarch Butterfly at the Shalin Liu on Thursday, September 23rd, at 7pm. I hope to see you there! Masks are required to be worn at all times while in the hall.For more information go here.

LOOK FOR AMERICAN PAINTED LADIES ON THE MOVE!

Please join us for a free live premiere of Beauty on the Wing: Life Story of the Monarch Butterfly at the Shalin Liu on Thursday, September 23rd, at 7pm. I hope to see you there! For more information go here.

The American Painted Lady (Vanessa virginiensis) is seen often drinking nectar alongside Monarchs during the late summer migration. She is one of four North American (of the 22 species found worldwide) Vanessa butterflies. The North American tribe also includes the Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta), Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui), and the West Coast Lady (Vanessa anabella). 

Some of the caterpillar’s favorite food plants are Sweet Everlasting (Graphalium obtusifolium), Pearly Everlasting (Anaphalis margaritacea), and Plantain-leaved Pussytoes (Antennaria plantaginifolia). The caterpillars also feed occasionally on Burdock (Arctium), Wormwood (Artemisia), and Ironweed (Vernonia)

BEAUTY ON THE WING AT THE SHALIN LIU! AND THANK YOU NEW ENGLAND BIOLABS!!!

Good Morning Butterfly Friends!

Don’t you love these last days of summer, they are simply so atmospherically glowing! According to the calendar, September 22nd marks the official beginning of autumn but if this balmy weather continues we still have many days ahead of warm golden light to look forward to.

The Monarch’s are on the move with continuous reports from all around the region of great flyovers and stopovers at meadows and friend’s gardens. I thought I was done rearing butterflies but a beautiful Mama stopped in our garden on Monday where she deposited dozens and dozens of eggs. More about that when I have time to write the story about why this happens. My friend Lauren was getting milkweed for the last of her caterpillars. She found an egg on one of the milkweed plants and it hatched yesterday! These late hatching Monarchs most likely won’t make it to Mexico, but they may travel as far as Florida where they will spend the cooler months there.

Female Monarch in the garden depositing eggs on September 13, 2021. Note the two tiny pin-head sized eggs on the milkweed leaf.

I am very delighted and proud to announce that we have our first corporate contributor/underwriter, New England Biolabs, Inc. We are equally as proud to write that New England Biolabs is a certified B Corporation, which means that a Certified B Corporation, or B Corp as it is commonly referred to, is a for-profit company that meets the highest level of third-party verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose. More about New England Biolabs and its founder, Donald G. Comb’s love of butterflies, in an upcoming post.

I have been working like crazy making posters and postcards for the upcoming screening, along with preparing images and artwork for American Public Television and PBS. It’s all pretty exciting, and also a bit nerve wracking, as this is the first time Beauty on the Wing will be appearing in front of a live audience on the big screen. We have printed a few extra posters. Any suggestions of where would be the best place to post, please write. Many thanks to Samantha at Seaside Graphicsfor her excellent advice in printing! The screening and Q and A are next Thursday, September 23rd, at 7pm.

I hope so much that all our friends who have supported Beauty so greatly, through interest and good will and/or contributions, will be able to attend. Please spread the word to your friends and family.  The screening is early enough in the evening that I think school age kids can attend and will really enjoy. Please be assured that this is a masked event and proof of vaccination may be required.

That Beauty on the Wing is having its live premiere at the Sahlin Liu is a full circle moment. Jesse Cook, the artist whose transcendent music you hear in the documentary, played at the Shalin Liu several years ago, pre Covid. Link to the concert photos at the Shalin Liu “Follow the Road

Here is the link to the lovely Rockport Music/Shalin Liu listing. Many thanks to Rockport Music’s Michelle Alekson for creating the page!

Happy September Days!

xoKim

Please consider making a tax deductible donation, or becoming an underwriter, to bring our Monarch Butterfly documentary Beauty on the Wing: Life Story of the Monarch Butterfly to American Public Television. To Learn More go here and to DONATE go here. Thank you!

With deep appreciation and gratitude for generous contributions to the following butterfly friends –

Lauren Mercadante, New England Biolabs, Inc., Jonathan and Sally Golding, James Masciarelli, Pete and Bobbi Kovner, Joeann Hart and Gordon Baird, Karrie Klaus (Boston), Sally Jackson, Marion Frost (Ipswich), Heidi and John Shiver (Pennsylvania), Marty and Russ Coleman, Joy Van Buskirk (Florida), Lillian and Craig Olmstead, Suki and Fil Agusti (Rockport), Janis Bell, Nina Groppo, Nubar Alexanian, Marguerite Matera, Claudia Bermudez, Thomas Hauck, Judith Foley (Woburn), Jane Paznik-Bondarin (New York), Paul Vassallo (Beverly), Stella Martin, Liv Hauck (California), Julia Williams Robinson (Minnesota), Cynthia Dunn, Diane Gustin, John Ronan, Karen Maslow, Fernando Arriaga (Mexico City), Holly Nipperus (Arizona), Kristina Gale (California), Maggie Debbie, Kate and Peter Van Demark (Rockport), Mia Nehme (Beverly), Chicki Hollet, Alice Gardner (Beverly), Therese Desmarais (Rockport), Jennie Meyer, Kathy Gerdon Archer (Beverly), Melissa Weigand (Salem), Duncan Todd (Lexington), Catherine Ryan, Linda Bouchard (Danvers), Elaine Mosesian, Paul Wegzyn (Ipswich), Catherine Bayliss, Alessandra Borges (Rhode Island), Jan Waldman (Swampscott), Carolyn Constable (Pennsylvania), Nancy Mattern (New Mexico), Ian Gardiner, Judy Arisman, Tom Schaefer, Margaret Thompson, Edward DeJesus (Maryland), Kim Tieger (Manchester), Mary Weissblum, Susan Pollack

New Poster –

HELLO MONARCH ACTU 676! – WHAT TO DO IF YOU FIND A TAGGED MONARCH

Good morning Butterfly Friends!

I hope you were able to get out and enjoy the glorious weather this past weekend! We dropped off our daughter Liv at Logan on Saturday. It was a dream having her home during this broken leg period and I am so grateful for her kind and loving care. We’ll all miss her terribly but her work and beautiful California call and we understand.

I graduated from the giant boot to the mini boot several weeks ago and am now doing well hopping around with only one crutch, which means, joyfully so, I can carry my cameras with my free arm! While out in marshes over the weekend I photographed a living tagged butterfly. I don’t usually see living tagged butterflies, only dead ones. Unfortunately, in the past, I have been in a field after a bunch of children ran unsupervised in catching and tagging butterflies, without proper training. Many were killed and/or mangled. Fortunately, male Monarch ACTU 676 appeared just fine and was flying well.

Only a small fraction of the butterflies tagged are actually recovered at their wintering grounds in the volcanic mountains of Mexico. Some are spotted near to where they were tagged, some along the migratory route, and the ones recovered and recorded in Mexico provide a meaningful connection between the tagger and the recoverer.

If you find a tagged Monarch, alive or dead, please go to the official online tagging form provided by Monarch Watch. You can find the 2020 -2021 form here and it looks like this screenshot –
As you can see, it’s a basic form and there is a link provided to add a photo. By submitting your sighting, you as a citizen scientist are participating in a long term study, first developed by Monarch Watch in 1992.

Please join us Thursday, September 23rd at 7pm for the world Live Premiere of Beauty on the Wing at the Shalin Liu, presented by the Boston Film Festival and Rockport Music. For more information, please go here.

Happy Butterfly Days,

xxKim

A MINI- GLOSSARY OF LATE SUMMER BUTTERFLIES

A gallery of some of the butterflies most commonly seen during the Monarch’s southward migration.

Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui) – wingspan 1.6 inches -2.9 inches

American Painted Lady (Vanessa virginiensis) – wingspan 1.75 – 2.40 inches

Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta) – wingspan 2.75 – 3 inches

Common Buckeye (Junonia coenia) – wingspan 1.5 to 2.75 inches 

Monarch (Danaus plexippus) – wingspan 3 to 4 inches 

Small White /Cabbage White (Pieris rapae) – wingspan 1.3 – 1.9 inches

Clouded Sulphur (Colias philodice) – wingspan 1.25 – 2 inches

Orange Sulphur (Colias eurytheme) -wingspan 1.3 – 2.3

Eastern Black Swallowtail (Papilio polyxenes) – wingspan 3 – 4 inches

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus) – wingspan 3.1 to 5.5 inches

American Copper (Lycaena phleas) – wingspan .75 to 1.5 inches 

Silver-bordered Fritillary (Bolaria selene) – wingspan 1.25 – 2.25 inches

Pearl Crescent (Phyciodes tharos) – wingspan 1 – 1.5 inches

Mourning Cloak (Nymphalis antiopa) – wingspan 2.25 – 4 inches

 

Beauty on the Wing Life Story of the Monarch Butterfly premiering locally on September 23rd at the Shalin Liu. For more information, please go here.

Please consider making a tax deductible donation (or becoming an underwriter) to bring our Monarch Butterfly documentary Beauty on the Wing: Life Story of the Monarch Butterfly to American Public Television. To Learn More go here and here: Over the Moon

To DONATE go here.

Thank you!

Pearl Crescent Male (left) and Female (right). You can tell the butterfly on the left is a male because males typically have black-tipped antennae clubs

 

PETAL DANCERS

Your daily Monarch photo-Monarch and Black-eyed Susans

Please consider making a tax deductible donation, or becoming an underwriter, to bring our Monarch Butterfly documentary Beauty on the Wing: Life Story of the Monarch Butterfly to American Public Television. To Learn More go here and to DONATE go here.  For the latest update with PBS, please go here: Over the Moon. Thank you!

OVER THE MOON!

Dear Monarch Friends,

I hope so much everyone is doing well. For Cape Ann, tropical storm Henri brought lots of rain but south of us, some of you were hard hit. I hope your homes and businesses weren’t damaged. It’s been a strange summer in more ways than one. The upside to having a broken leg has been spending more time with my family, as well as all the beautiful pollinators in our little garden, both of which give such joy so no complaints here 🙂

The results of American Public Television’s Summer offer to Public Television Stations across the country were tallied. We are simply over the Moon with the results. Beauty on the Wing had one of the highest ratings ever. The documentary is going to be shown in 9 out of 10 of the nation’s major markets and 23 out of the top 25.  What does this mean exactly? 267 PBS stations voted YES, 44 stations voted MAYBE, and only 15 stations voted NO. The YES votes cover 88.5 percent of American homes, and the MAYBES and NOS may still change their minds! Beauty is going to be airing from New York to Los Angeles (the two top markets) and everywhere in between! This is wonderful for Monarchs, for our community, for New England, and for pollinator habitats everywhere!

Everyone who receives these updates has generously contributed to Beauty on the Wing and/or supported the film in some manner or another. Please Generous Contributors, I am not asking for further monetary contributions. I am already overwhelmed by your kind generosity and support. What I am hoping you may be able to help with is to think about worthy organizations, businesses, or foundations that you are affiliated with or know about that would be interested in becoming an underwriter.

When you view a show on PBS and the announcer says, this show was brought to you by the following …, these people and organizations are underwriters. Each and every time that Beauty on the Wing airs, underwriters will be promoted at both the beginning and end of the program. Becoming an underwriter for Beauty on the Wing is a wonderful way to let people know about a business, foundation, or organization, on a national platform. We have a very positive letter from APT to share with possible underwriters. So please think about all this and email me if you have any suggestions. I am happy to provide the station results from American Public Television, along with APT’s Underwriting Guidelines.

On another positive note, we are having a truly phenomenal year for Monarchs, not just on Cape Ann, but in regions throughout the butterfly’s northern breeding grounds. These population spikes seem to happen about every ten years or so. The last time Cape Ann was blessed with so many Monarchs was in 2012. Let’s keep our hopes up that the current beauties cavorting in our gardens, meadows, and dunes will make it all the way to Mexico and we’ll see an improvement in population counts at the butterfly’s wintering grounds in Cerro Pelon and El Rosario.

Happy August Butterfly Days!

xoKim

With heartfelt thanks and gratitude to the following for their generous support in helping to bring Beauty on the Wing to public television – 

Lauren Mercadante, Jonathan and Sally Golding, James Masciarelli, Pete and Bobbi Kovner, Joeann Hart and Gordon Baird, Karrie Klaus (Boston), Sally Jackson, Marion Frost (Ipswich), Joy Van Buskirk (Florida), Lillian and Craig Olmstead, Suki and Fil Agusti (Rockport), Janis Bell, Nina Groppo, Nubar Alexanian, Marguerite Matera, Claudia Bermudez, Thomas Hauck, Judith Foley (Woburn), Jane Paznik-Bondarin (New York), Paul Vassallo (Beverly), Stella Martin, Liv Hauck (California), Julia Williams Robinson (Minnesota), Cynthia Dunn, Diane Gustin, Heidi Shiver (Pennsylvania), John Ronan, Karen Maslow, Fernando Arriaga (Mexico City), Holly Nipperus (Arizona), Kristina Gale (California), Maggie Debbie, Kate and Peter Van Demark (Rockport), Mia Nehme (Beverly), Chicki Hollet, Alice Gardner (Beverly), Therese Desmarais (Rockport), Jennie Meyer, Kathy Gerdon Archer (Beverly), Melissa Weigand (Salem), Duncan Todd (Lexington), Catherine Ryan, Linda Bouchard (Danvers), Elaine Mosesian, Paul Wegzyn (Ipswich), Catherine Bayliss, Alessandra Borges (Rhode Island), Jan Waldman (Swampscott), Carolyn Constable (Pennsylvania), Nancy Mattern (New Mexico), Ian Gardiner, Judy Arisman, Tom Schaefer, Margaret Thompson

Please consider making a tax deductible donation, or becoming an underwriter, to bring our Monarch Butterfly documentary Beauty on the Wing: Life Story of the Monarch Butterfly to American Public Television. To Learn More go here and to DONATE go here. Thank you!

From APT – “Congratulations! This is a wonderful response to this beautiful, well produced and educational nature program. The stunning scenery from the coast of New England to the heart of Mexico makes it an excellent program for children as well as nature lovers of all ages. This voting clearly shows that program managers across the country are confident that Beauty on the Wing: Life Story of the Monarch Butterfly will resonate with their viewing audiences.”

YES and MAYBES in the Top 25 Markets

  • WNET in New York #1
  • KOCE/KCET in Los Angeles #2
  • WTTW in Chicago #3
  • WHYY in Philadelphia #4
  • KQED in San Francisco #6
  • Georgia Public Broadcasting #7
  • KUHT in Houston #8
  • WETA in Washington, DC #9
  • KAET in Phoenix #11
  • KCTS in Seattle #12
  • WEDU in Tampa #13
  • WTVS in Detroit #15
  • KRMA in Denver #16
  • WUCF in Orlando #17
  • WPBT in Miami #18
  • WVIZ in Cleveland #19
  • KVIE in Sacramento #20
  • Oregon Public Broadcasting #21
  • WTVI in Charlotte #22
  • KETC in St. Louis #23

MAYBE

  • UNC-TV #24
  • WFYI in Indianapolis #25

MORE MONARCH BABES ON THE WAY!

More teenies found in the garden!  I thought we had seen the last Monarch eggs but while cutting milkweed in the garden for the larger caterpillars, we found four more!  I can’t recall when was the last time I saw this many Monarchs in our garden and in meadows.

For your daily Monarch photo, today we have a range of Monarchs in our garden in different stages, from minuscule first instars to J-shapes readying to pupate to an old worn out boy winding down.

1st Instar

3rd Instar

J-shape readying to pupate

Chrysalis

Newly emerged zipping together proboscis

Female newly emerged drying wet wings and readying for take off

An old boy – note his tattered and fading wings

Please consider making a tax deductible donation, or becoming an underwriter, to bring our Monarch Butterfly documentary Beauty on the Wing: Life Story of the Monarch Butterfly to American Public Television. To Learn More go here and to DONATE go here. Thank you!

 

 

WHY ARE THERE GOLD DOTS ON A MONARCH CHRYSALIS?

Glimmering sparkly gold in the sunlight, a question often asked is why is the Monarch chrysalis adorned with metallic dots and dashes? The gold dots serve the function of oxygen exchange but that doesn’t answer how and why the dots are gold.

Since time immemorial people have noticed the brilliant golden dots, dashes, and gold leafing of many species of butterfly chrysalides. The word chrysalis originates from the Greek word “chrysos,” which means gold.

There are are several hypotheses. The two that make the most sense are deterrents to predators and camouflage.

For the same reason the iridescent scales of the Blue Morpho Butterfly flash light when the butterfly is in flight, the golden markings of the chrysalis catch light, confusing and deterring predators.

Butterfly pupae are protein-rich easy targets. They are too busy rearranging their insides while undergoing metamorphosis to fend off predators. For the most part, throughout a butterfly’s life cycle, from caterpillar to chrysalis to adult, each species has evolved with specific-to-that-species warning and/or camouflage markings.

The chrysalis of the Black Swallowtail Butterfly is a perfect example. When the butterfly pupates in the spring and summer, the chrysalis has a soft golden green hue, which blends beautifully with the lush green of summer foliage.

Black Swallowtail Chrysalis newly formed

When the butterfly pupates late in the summer, the chrysalis turns woody brown, taking on the same hues of bare tree branches.

Golden studs, dashes, and leafing reflect the surrounding area, create flashes of light, look like drops of dew, shafts of light, and is some cases, such as that of the Tigerwing Butterfly, may frighten a predator when it sees its own reflection.

Tigerwing Butterfly (Tithorea harmonia) Photo by Desus Mortus

How the gold is formed is easier to pinpoint. Metallic and iridescent markings in butterflies are created when both pigmented cells (in this case yellow carotenoids) and structural cells are present. You see carotenoids present when trees turn yellow, gold, and orange in autumn. The Monarch caterpillar gets its carotenoids from the plant it eats, milkweed.

The crown of the Monarch pupa is called a diadem. If you look closely at the diadem, it’s a raised structure, a line of tiny hills. The combination of the raised hills and carotenoids present both absorb and reflects the light, creating the appearance of shiny gold.

Please consider making a tax deductible donation, or becoming an underwriter, to bring our Monarch Butterfly documentary Beauty on the Wing: Life Story of the Monarch Butterfly to American Public Television. To Learn More go here and to DONATE go here. Thank you!

PRECIOUS GEMS IN THE GARDEN!

Gems more precious than jade.

The pupating Monarch caterpillar spins a fine mat of silky threads, to which the little black post, called the cremaster, attaches during pupation. Thirty or so of these jade-like pendants are in the garden and readying to emerge.   

Twins!

Please consider making a tax deductible donation, or becoming an underwriter, to bring our Monarch Butterfly documentary Beauty on the Wing: Life Story of the Monarch Butterfly to American Public Television. To Learn More go here and to DONATE go here. Thank you!

TINY CATERPILLAR MOLTING

Did you ever wonder how a caterpillar fits into its new suit after shedding the old? The caterpillar in the photo has just shed its skin, or molted, and you can see its discarded and shriveled skin.

After molting, the caterpillar rests quietly for a bit, sucking in great deal of air, which expands the new suit. After molting and resting, the caterpillar eats its old skin.

The caterpillar feeds and feeds, expanding and growing into its baggy suit until it again feels a sense of tightening and will molt again.

Caterpillars molt four to five times and each stage is called an instar, for example, 1st instar, 2nd instar, 3rd instar, etc.

I haven’t seen a female depositing eggs for a week or so. Perhaps this is our last batch of caterpillars and these will grow to become the Super Monarchs, the Monarchs that journey to Mexico.

Last of the teeny tinies?

Please consider making a tax deductible donation, or becoming an underwriter, to bring our Monarch Butterfly documentary Beauty on the Wing: Life Story of the Monarch Butterfly to American Public Television. To Learn More go here and to DONATE go here. Thank you!

MONARCH FLOWER BUD BABIES

The Mama Monarch of these three early instar caterpillars deposited her eggs on the buds of Common Milkweed. I see this behavior often, not as much as on the leaves, but often enough.

The three hatched and stayed foraging on the flowers, where they were well camouflaged in their early instar paler colors. By the third molt, they had all three moved off the blossoms and were foraging on foliage.

Please consider making a tax deductible donation, or becoming an underwriter, to bring our Monarch Butterfly documentary Beauty on the Wing: Life Story of the Monarch Butterfly to American Public Television. To Learn More go here and to DONATE go here. Thank you!

MONARCHS EMERGING AT BREAKFAST

Last weekend watching the Monarchs emerge at breakfast – I think Charlotte loves butterflies nearly as much as do I <3

 

CATS IN THE GARDEN, MONARCH CATS THAT IS!

Milkweeds, as most know, are the host plant for Monarch Butterflies. A host plant is another way of saying caterpillar food plant.

Monarchs deposit eggs on milkweed plants. Some milkweeds are more productive than other species. For the Northeast region, the most productive milkweed is Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca). The second most productive is Marsh Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata), also known as Swamp Milkweed.

What is meant by productive? When given a choice, the females choose these plants over other species of milkweed and the caterpillars have the greatest success rate. In our own butterfly garden and at at my client’s habitat gardens, I grow both Common and Marsh side-by-side. The females flit from one plant to the next, freely depositing eggs on both species.

Monarch caterpillar readying to pupate (become a chrysalis) and hanging in a J-shape

Please consider making a tax deductible donation, or becoming an underwriter, to bring our Monarch Butterfly documentary Beauty on the Wing: Life Story of the Monarch Butterfly to American Public Television. To Learn More go here and to DONATE go here. Thank you!

With thanks and gratitude to our growing list of wonderful folks for their kind contributions

Lauren Mercadante, Jonathan and Sally Golding, James Masciarelli, Pete and Bobbi Kovner, Karrie Klaus (Boston), Sally Jackson, Marion Frost (Ipswich), JoeAnn Hart and Gordon Baird, Joy Van Buskirk (Florida), Lillian and Craig Olmstead, Suki and Fil Agusti (Rockport), Janis Bell, Nina Groppo, Nubar Alexanian, Marguerite Matera, Claudia Bermudez, Thomas Hauck, Judith Foley (Woburn), Jane Paznik-Bondarin (New York), Paul Vassallo (Beverly), Stella Martin, Liv Hauck (California), Julia Williams Robinson (Minnesota), Cynthia Dunn, Diane Gustin, Heidi Shiver (Pennsylvania), John Ronan, Karen Maslow, Fernando Arriaga (Mexico City), Holly Nipperus (Arizona), Kristina Gale (California), Maggie Debbie, Kate and Peter Van Demark (Rockport), Mia Nehme (Beverly), Chicki Hollet, Alice Gardner (Beverly), Therese Desmarais (Rockport), Jennie Meyer, Kathy Gerdon Archer (Beverly), Melissa Weigand (Salem), Duncan Todd (Lexington), Catherine Ryan, Linda Bouchard (Danvers), Elaine Mosesian, Paul Wegzyn (Ipswich), Catherine Bayliss, Jan Waldman (Swampscott), Alessandra Borges (Rhode Island), Nancy Mattern (New Mexico), Carolyn Constable (Pennsylvania), and Ian Gardiner.

BUTTERFLY FRIENDS STOPPING BY FOR MONARCHS!

Walking past our front porch, butterfly friends Meadow, Frieda, and Ruby stopped by to see a batch of newly emerged Monarchs. Both Frieda and Meadow are featured in Beauty on the Wing: Life Story of the Monarch Butterfly, filmed when they were several years younger. It’s so wonderful to see all three girls are growing into the bright, beautiful young woman they are becoming.

Love our neighborhood kids <3

HOW TO TELL THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A MALE AND FEMALE MONARCH BUTTERFLY

Newly eclosed female in the petunia patchYou can tell she is a female Monarch because of her smokier and thicker wing venation. The male’s wing veins are narrower . The male also sports to black dots, or sacs, one on each hind wing. The sacs are filled with a pheromone, which the male sprinkles on the female during courtship. If she is receptive, the pair will mate. The pheromones are sometimes referred to by scientists as “love dust.”
In the above photo taken during the fall migration last year, you can easily see the difference. The female is on the left, the male on the right.

Please consider contributing to our online fundraiser to bring the feature length documentary Beauty on the Wing: Life Story of the Monarch Butterfly to American Public Television. Thank you! 

NEW FILM FOR MONARCH KIDS: THE MARVELOUS MAGNIFICENT MIGRATING MONARCH! AVAILABLE TO VIEW FOR FREE

Dear Monarch Friends,

Last week the short film about Monarchs created for the Sawyer Free Library children’s program had lots of interest. The Marvelous Magnificent Migrating Monarch! finished its run at the SFLibrary and I thought I would love to share it with you and the youngest members of your family. Many, many thanks to Justine Vitale, Sawyer Free Library Department Supervisor, for encouraging me to create this short film for children!!

At about four minutes in, Charlotte demonstrates an uncomplicated and fun method of raising  Monarchs caterpillars. She has been doing this with me since she was two, and you can see how simple it is to set up a terrarium.

The number of Monarchs in gardens, meadows and dunes over the past month has been nothing but extraordinary. Simply going no further than on our front porch and in my garden (not quite recovered from broken leg yet), I have photographed countless females depositing eggs along with many battles of male to male combat as they stake out their patch of wildflowers and milkweed while patrolling for females.

Circling round for a sneak attack

Battle Royale over the Joe-pye wildflower (Eupatorium). What makes this patch of Joe-Pye so attractive to the males is that is it located adjacent to a patch of Marsh Milkweed (Asclepias incarnate)

Over the past few days, the Monarchs have been settling down a bit, which happens every year toward the mid to end of August. I think the butterflies we have been seeing battling and depositing eggs may be the parents of the Methuselah Monarchs. This newly emerging batch of caterpillars may very well be the generation of Super Monarchs, the ones that journey to Mexico.

I am so hopeful for the future of this tiny marvel of nature. I hope The Marvelous Magnificent Migrating Monarch is easy for your youngsters to follow along and to understand, and also provides you with some tips on how we can all help the butterflies. Safe travels Monarchs!

My deepest gratitude and thanks to all who are contributing to the second phase of launching Beauty on the Wing: Life Story of  the Monarch Butterfly out into the world, the world of Public Television. To date we have raised close to $18,000.00 toward our goal of $51,000.00.

For more information on how you can help launch Beauty on the Wing to the American Public Television audience, please go here.

DONATE HERE

Thank you so very much to all these kind contributors:

Lauren Mercadante, Jonathan and Sally Golding, James Masciarelli, Pete and Bobbi Kovner, Karrie Klaus (Boston), Sally Jackson, Marion Frost (Ipswich), JoeAnn Hart and Gordon Baird, Joy Van Buskirk (Florida), Lillian and Craig Olmstead, Suki and Fil Agusti (Rockport), Janis Bell, Nina Groppo, Nubar Alexanian, Marguerite Matera, Claudia Bermudez, Thomas Hauck, Judith Foley (Woburn), Jane Paznik-Bondarin (New York), Paul Vassallo (Beverly), Stella Martin, Liv Hauck (California), Julia Williams Robinson (Minnesota), Cynthia Dunn, Diane Gustin, Heidi Shiver (Pennsylvania), John Ronan, Karen Maslow, Fernando Arriaga (Mexico City), Holly Nipperus (Arizona), Kristina Gale (California), Maggie Debbie, Kate and Peter Van Demark (Rockport), Mia Nehme (Beverly), Chicki Hollet, Alice Gardner (Beverly), Therese Desmarais (Rockport), Jennie Meyer, Kathy Gerdon Archer (Beverly), Melissa Weigand (Salem), Duncan Todd (Lexington), Catherine Ryan, Linda Bouchard (Danvers), Elaine Mosesian, Paul Wegzyn (Ipswich), Catherine Bayliss, Jan Waldman (Swampscott), Alessandra Borges (Rhode Island), Nancy Mattern (New Mexico), Carolyn Constable (Pennsylvania), and Ian Gardiner.

Female depositing eggs on Common Milkweed seedpod

 

 

NEW MONARCH BUTTERFLY FILM CREATED FOR CAPE ANN KIDS PREMIERING VIRTUALLY AND FREE AT THE SAWYER FREE LIBRAY!

Please join us during the week of August 3rd through August 7th (Tuesday – Saturday), for the premiere of a new short Monarch Butterfly film, “The Marvelous Magnificent Migrating Monarch!”  The film was created for Cape Ann kids and for the Sawyer Free Library. You’ll learn about the special connection Monarchs have to Cape Ann, how you can help the butterflies, and how to raise Monarchs from eggs found in your own backyard, meadows, and local dunes.

To register, go here.

My deepest gratitude and thanks to all who are contributing to the second phase of launching Beauty on the Wing: Life Story of  the Monarch Butterfly out into the world, the world of Public Television. To date we have raised close to $18,000.00 toward our goal of $51,000.00.

For more information on how you can help launch Beauty on the Wing to the American Public Television audience, please go here.

DONATE HERE

Monarch and Coreopsis

Thank you so very much to all these kind contributors:

Lauren Mercadante, Jonathan and Sally Golding, James Masciarelli, Pete and Bobbi Kovner, Karrie Klaus (Boston), Sally Jackson, Marion Frost (Ipswich), Joy Van Buskirk (Florida), Lillian and Craig Olmstead, Suki and Fil Agusti (Rockport), Janis Bell, Nina Groppo, Nubar Alexanian, Marguerite Matera, Claudia Bermudez, Thomas Hauck, Judith Foley (Woburn), Jane Paznik-Bondarin (New York), Paul Vassallo (Beverly), Stella Martin, Liv Hauck (California), Julia Williams Robinson (Minnesota), Cynthia Dunn, Diane Gustin, Heidi Shiver (Pennsylvania), John Ronan, Karen Maslow, Fernando Arriaga (Mexico City), Holly Nipperus (Arizona), Kristina Gale (California), Maggie Debbie, Kate and Peter Van Demark (Rockport), Mia Nehme (Beverly), Chicki Hollet, Alice Gardner (Beverly), Therese Desmarais (Rockport), Jennie Meyer, Kathy Gerdon Archer (Beverly), Melissa Weigand (Salem), Duncan Todd (Lexington), Catherine Ryan, Linda Bouchard (Danvers), Elaine Mosesian, Paul Wegzyn (Ipswich), Catherine Bayliss, Jan Waldman (Swampscott), and Alessandra Borges (Woonsocket RI).

SUPER EXCITING NEWS FOR BEAUTY ON THE WING

Hello Monarch Friends!

I hope you are all doing well. It’s been a bit of a tumultuous past two weeks. Many of you have heard but I don’t want anyone to be surprised not knowing, so first the not-so-great-news is that I broke my leg. It’s going to take a number of months before I am back on my feet, literally, but not figuratively 🙂  Our darling daughter Liv is here visiting for what was supposed to be her vacation and she, our son Alex, and husband Tom are being fantastically helpful. I’ll soon be able to work from my desk and the forced confinement means that I’ll be able to get more work done on fundraising and beloved film projects.

The super exciting news is that Beauty on the Wing has been accepted to the 37th annual Boston Film Festival! The festival dates are September 23rd through the 27th. This year the film will be part virtual and part in person screenings. This is a fantastic festival and the organizers are simply a stellar group of people. When I have more information, I’ll let you know.

Have you been seeing more Monarchs in your garden and in meadows this past month? We have definitely been having a lovely influx, a greater number of Monarchs than in the past several years. It’s so beautiful to see. I’ve released a number of butterflies this past week, and currently have them in all stages in our terrariums, from the teeny tiniest newly emerged to chrysalides and adults.

A friend wrote to ask if these beauties we are currently seeing are the parents of the Super generation, or Methuselah Monarchs, the generation that flies to Mexico. They may very well be, but there could also be one more generation after this.

Monarchs don’t generally drink nectar from roses, especially hybridized roses. This variety is a very old Bourbon Rose that is divinely fragrant. The male was vigorously patrolling our garden looking for females and stopped frequently at the rose to rest before beginning pursuit again.

Please join me, along with the youngest members of your family. I have created a short film for Cape Ann young people for the Sawyer Free Library titled The Marvelous Magnificent Migrating Monarch – here is the link and more information: August 3rd – August 6th, Tuesday through Friday, 10:00 to 10:30. Children’s Services Summer Reading Program “Tails and Tales” presents Monarch Butterflies with Kim Smith! Kim created a short film and virtual presentation to share these beautiful creatures with children and families, and see how Gloucester is a part of their amazing migration journey! Register here and we will send you the link to enjoy this presentation throughout the week starting Tuesday August 3rd.

My deepest gratitude and thanks to all who are contributing to the second phase of launching Beauty on the Wing: Life Story of  the Monarch Butterfly out into the world, the world of Public Television. To date we have raised close to $18,000.00 toward our $51,000.00 goal. Thank you so very much to all these kind contributors:

Lauren Mercadante, Jonathan and Sally Golding, James Masciarelli, Pete and Bobbi Kovner, Karrie Klaus (Boston), Sally Jackson, Marion Frost (Ipswich), Joy Van Buskirk (Florida), Lillian and Craig Olmstead, Suki and Fil Agusti (Rockport), Janis Bell, Nina Groppo, Nubar Alexanian, Marguerite Matera, Claudia Bermudez, Thomas Hauck, Judith Foley (Woburn), Jane Paznik-Bondarin (New York), Paul Vassallo (Beverly), Stella Martin, Liv Hauck (California), Julia Williams Robinson (Minnesota), Cynthia Dunn, Diane Gustin, Heidi Shiver (Pennsylvania), John Ronan, Karen Maslow, Fernando Arriaga (Mexico City), Holly Nipperus (Arizona), Kristina Gale (California), Maggie Debbie, Kate and Peter Van Demark (Rockport), Mia Nehme (Beverly), Chicki Hollet, Alice Gardner (Beverly), Therese Desmarais (Rockport), Jennie Meyer, Kathy Gerdon Archer (Beverly), Melissa Weigand (Salem), Duncan Todd (Lexington), Catherine Ryan, Linda Bouchard (Danvers), Elaine Mosesian, Paul Wegzyn (Ipswich), Catherine Bayliss, Jan Waldman (Swampscott), and Alessandra Borges (Woonsocket RI).

Take care,

xoKim


 

 

 

MAKING A BEELINE FOR THE MILKWEED! and save the date for my children’s programs at the Sawyer Free Library

Dear Monarch Friends,

A joyful sight to see so many Monarchs in the dunes and in our gardens over the weekend! A female flew in and left us with another dozen or so eggs, deposited on the Common Milkweed. She briefly inspected the Whorled Milkweed (Asclepias verticillata) and Butterflyweed (Asclepias tuberosa), but as usual, opted to only lay a batch on leaves and buds of the Common Milkweed.

Early Sunday morning on PiPl watch, several Monarchs flew in from across the bay and later that day, dozens and dozens were spotted drinking nectar and depositing eggs at the Common Milkweed growing at the Good Harbor Beach dunes. The milkweed has been blooming for over a month now and all this rain has kept the blossoms fresh and inviting.