Monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus) are known for their incredible migration patterns, travelling across the United States from Mexico to Canada and back. Some Monarchs have even begun to make trans-Atlantic trips to Bermuda to find milkweed. Monarchs lay their eggs on milkweed plants as they migrate, and the caterpillars acquire a toxin from the leaves of the plant as they eat, making them unappetizing to predators. Species of milkweed can be found all over the country; Pennsylvania sees Monarchs as they pass through on their way to Canada in the summer, then again as they head back south for the winter.
This summer, Shaver’s Creek will be participating in a citizen science effort to track the migrating populations of Monarchs through the United States called the Monarch Larva Monitoring Project. You’ll be hearing from me, Jillian Hanelly, on a periodic basis with my Dispatches from the Patch, where I’ll be updating with information about Monarchs, milkweed, and our monitoring efforts. As an intern with the Plant Science Program at Shaver’s Creek, I will be collecting data from the patch all summer and am looking forward to sharing all of the interesting finds I come across out there.
To become a Monarch watcher yourself, check out mlmp.org.
–Jillian “Chicory” Hanelly, Plant Science Intern