Thursday, October 3, 2013

all hail! the monarchs have arrived

"There were literally hundreds of monarchs all over the flowers at the Myriad Garden in Oklahoma City," per OKbirds Listserve.  September 25, 2013
Oklahoma backyard, Monarch oasis, 2013

One of the wondrous events this time of of year in Oklahoma is the arrival of the monarch migration.

Like shooting stars lighting up the night sky, the monarch’s Fall journey southward brings color and wondrous beauty across the landscape of central Oklahoma. When one of these flows (large groups) of migrating monarch comes through, it is not unusual to see hundreds flying together.

It’s truly a phenomenal story--one that began last year.

Every Spring, tens of millions of monarchs leave their Winter refuge deep in central Mexico to journey north to the southern states in the U.S., where each butterfly then lays hundreds of eggs. That generation, and sometimes the following generation of monarchs, then continues trekking north across North America through June—arriving as far north as Canada’s prairie provinces of Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba.

Then at the end of summer, the monarch butterflies turn around and flutter 3,000 miles south, back to Mexico’s Michoacán Forest where they will live for the Winter.

This year's sightings, as of this week
I am deeply enchanted by these winged beauties who dance and even roost on the oak trees in our backyard. And I love the fact that scientists cannot explain their multi-generational, circular journey. They simply don’t know how these subsequent generations of monarchs can orient themselves and navigate each year towards a place they've never been before.

This year, however, the number of migrating monarchs has considerably diminished—and the flows seem to be later than normal. There are numerous environmental, weather, and human factors affecting the monarchs. You can read a good overview on this here, from the Monarch Butterfly learning center.

And while it's always easier to point the blame finger to what's going on elsewhere, here are some ideas as to what I--and you--can do to help, and another take here.  

One simple idea: buy milkweed seeds or plugs from Monarch Watch to create a hearty monarch waystation in your own backyard! 

Blessed the one whose help is the God of Jacob,
whose hope is in the LORD, his God,
The maker of heaven and earth,
the seas and all that is in them,
Who keeps faith forever
~Psalm 146:5-6