The Monarch Alliance News

August 2017 Newsletter

THE MONARCH MIGRATION:   As most of you know, monarchs are now spread throughout the US and southern Canada, the full extent of the migration.  Monarchs are now in full force.  I have seen them daily around my milkweed and in other areas with milkweed.  They will begin migrating south to Mexico later this month, beginning in the northern regions.  According to tagging data, the migration follows the angle of the sun:  the “migration window” in our area, the time when most monarchs migrate through, is roughly September.  So we will tag during the month of September.

Those of you that tag, should order your tagging kit from Monarch Watch.

THE NEW TMA “GRANTS” COMMITTEE:  As you know, we hold two native plant sales each year, one in the spring and one in the fall.  We also held a special fund raiser with Crowd Rise for our meadow conversion project with Fort Frederick State Park.  We aimed to raise $2000 but got a matching donor and actually raised $4400.  Because of our successful fundraisers, we decided that we would use most of the money to plow back into our community as grants to put in even more monarch waystations.  Actually, we can make our contribution greater by grants of milkweed and native plants, which we get at wholesale prices at Sunny Meadows during our plant sales.

Tracy McCleaf and I decided to form a Grants Committee that would review applications and make the grants.  I think we have a great committee:  Brittany Wedd, Jeff Unsworth and Vicki Bender of Washington County;  Ellen Murphy, Nancy Zapotocki and Karene Motivans for West Virginia;  and Ann Payne for Frederick County.  Tracy is working up a draft application.  We will advertise the grants this fall and the grants committee can review them over the winter and make the grants next year before our spring sale.  We will be giving away up to $1000 per grantee, mostly in native plants.  That is enough for a very nice monarch waystation.  

DISCOVERY STATION REARING CAGE AND MONARCH EXHIBIT:  We have a great relationship with Discovery Station, the children’s science museum, in Hagerstown.  The Lions Club of Hagerstown – Paul Needy and Dave Kaplan – built a nice permanent monarch caterpillar rearing cage and TMA has provided banners, posters and handout material to finish the exhibit.  TMA will also provide the monarch cats and milkweed.  Brittany has videoed the formation of chrysalids and if you have seen her videos from last year, the eclosure of adults.  We are trying to keep about 10 caterpillars in the cage, supplying milkweed as necessary.  Beginning in late August, Brittany will tag the monarchs that emerge.  This is a great exhibit and a nice promotion for TMA.  

Brittany and I have discussed doing YouTube videos at Discovery Station, her discussing science activities, while TMA does updates on the migration and other videos of interest.  This will be a project for the coming months.

TMA MONARCH WAYSTATION PROJECTS:  Our big project this year will be at Fort Frederick State Park.  There are two five acre meadows on either side of the parking area at the Visitors Center.  The meadows contain a combination of cool season and warm season grasses.  We will use a mowing regime in the spring to move the meadow into warm season grasses.  In addition, we will plant 500 native plants in one the meadows on September 17th and another 500 native plants next spring.

Other projects in discussion include:  the C&O Canal at Cuswha Basin, Shepherd University (they have two sites – a waystation at the campus and a meadow conversion project at their farm), the Town of Hancock, and Clear Spring Garden Club.

We do not want to hoard our funds and we are hoping to start some of these projects this fall.

TMA ACTIVITIES:  We have a few events lined up for the fall so far and hope to update this with a list of events for “Monarch Discovery Days”, for the month of September:

  • August 12 - Mini-ID Workshop on Butterflies and Native Plants at Kiwanis Park.  We did this program last year with some success.

  • August 26 – The Washington County Master Gardeners will hold their Pollinator Palooza.  TMA will have a booth and I will speak to a class about the monarch migration.  

  • September 7 – Washington County Bee Keepers Meeting

  • September 16 – Our fall milkweed and plant sale at Sunny Meadows Garden Center.

  • September 30 – St. Paul’s Church Bazaar in Sharpsburg.

JOINING THE PVAS FAMILY:  I just want to say one thing about this.  I think some of us were a bit wary about joining PVAS as a program, but I want to say this has been very successful and we are enjoying new opportunities every day.

That’s all for now!  I’ll update you when we put together our Monarch Discovery Days program.



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