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This year seems to be solidly average for monarch butterflies at VINS. Tagging continues through the month, but there are not huge numbers like those we saw during the summer of 2019. The amount of tagged butterflies is still more than were collected during all of last season, when at least for our nature center, we had lower numbers of monarchs.
It is still too early to tell what the overwintering populations will look like this year but early reports show that it could be a good year. Monarch populations overall are declining and they are currently experiencing some good years and some bad years. Loss of milkweed is becoming an apparent factor in the shrinking population. To that end VINS is attempting to help restore milkweed plants on our campus.
By collecting seeds from existing plants and starting them indoors we hope to get a jump on next spring. By selectively choosing where to plant and actively assisting their growth we hope to slowly increase the number of plants that can be hosts for caterpillars next summer.
We hope to provide the best possible habitat for monarchs through the creation of host plants, flowering plants, water sources, and shelter. These types of small changes are necessary across monarchs’ range and can ultimately help protect this important species.
—Jim Armbruster, Research Coordinator
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