The Monarch Alliance News

May 2017 Newsletter

THE MIGRATION:  Not a whole lot new to report.  You will recall, in late February, the census at the sanctuaries was 4.01 hectares of Monarchs (possibly 50 million butterflies per hectare).  Then a severe winter storm hit the Monarchs just as they were getting ready to leave the sanctuaries in early March.  You may recall that Lincoln Brower said mortality could be as high as 50%.  Then, we had reports of observations of very tattered Monarchs arriving in Texas (the first major line of milkweed) urgently laying their eggs.  


Throughout April, most of the Monarchs were in Texas.  A good way to check the progress north of the Monarch Butterfly is to check the Journey North maps.  The maps will show observations of Monarchs, eggs and larva.  They are based on citizen science observations.  You can also look for reports by the other Monarch organizations as well, such as Monarch Joint Venture, Monarch Watch, and the Xerces Society.  According to Journey North, since the Monarchs that wintered in Mexico entered Texas in April and it takes about a month for the “first" generation to emerge, we should see adult Monarchs in about a week.  The generation that wintered in Mexico will die off, and the first generation of the year will be heading north in search of fresh milkweed.  These Monarchs will live from 2-6 weeks and lay as many as 700 eggs while heading north in search of milkweed and laying eggs.  They will then die off and the “second" generation will emerge, continuing their northward journey.  We probably have to wait for the third generation to reach our area in numbers.  


PLANT SALES:  Plant sales.  We sold over 300 Butterfly Weed plants on April 30, most of which were sold online on the City of Hagerstown’s website.  They have been great partners in supporting TMA activities.  The Master Gardeners also had a plant sale the same day.  Unfortunately, we had a scheduling conflict with the Master Gardeners, and we will do better next year.  The Potomac Valley Audubon Society, another one of our partners, will be having a milkweed and native plant sale in Shepherdstown on May 21 during the Back Alley Tour.  Stop by and buy some more plants.  If you have never done the Back Alley Garden Tour, it is great fun.


OUR PROGRAMS:  We have been very busy.  On Arbor Day, the City invited us to participate and plant milkweed.  Dave Kaplan and I got to talk to the children from Pangborn Elementary School about the Monarch Butterfly and play a game we developed, Monarch Snakes and Ladders.  Even though the weather was cold, the kids appeared to love the game.  Since the ground was wet, the City planted the milkweed for us.  When you visit the park, you can see six Common Milkweed planted to the right of the boardwalk running along the western side of the park.  As you know, Common Milkweed is very hardy and should do well in that area.


Many of you came to our program at the Kiwanis Park.  The weather was on the cool side, but the rain held off.  The Mayor the City of Hagerstown officially opened the park and said some nice things about TMA.  Dave and I had a chance to say a few words about Monarchs and our exhibits.  I have heard from many people since, and the reports have been very good.  There is always room for improvement and we will address those issues in the weeks to come.


Next Saturday, May 7, we will have a booth at Greenfest, a festival in Boonsboro, MD that typically draws several thousand visitors.  Anyone that wants to help should let me know.


I won’t repeat our program for the rest of the summer, which you can find on our calendar of events.  Our next program isn’t until July, however, we will probably use the spare time to think about how to move our program forward.


SAVING THE SAYLOR HOUSE:  I attended a meeting of the Hagerstown City Council, which approved a proposal to allow the Washington County Historical Trust and the Antietam-Conococheague Watershed Alliance to restore the historic stone house on the property.  TMA supported their proposal, since we would have access to the building for exhibits.  This is several years away, however.  The city will run utilities to the Saylor House.  It will be nice to have water at the Monarch Waystation.


THE MONARCH WAYSTATION:  Many thanks to TMA members that have been out pulling weeds and otherwise helping maintain the waystation, starting with Barbara Rice, our waystation maintenance coordinator, James Dillon, Rick Parker, Leah Neveil and Vicky Souder.  I received many compliments from members of the public, even though the plants are still small.  Elmer Weibley, Head of the Washington County Soil Conservation District, which paid for the plants and materials, was very complimentary and talked to James Dillon, our Monarch Waystation Consultant, about adding plants that failed to come up and even expanding the waystation into other areas of the park.  We turned Elmer into a believer.


YOU’RE INVITED:  Sometime this summer, TMA will get together at my house for an annual event.  I’ll try to schedule it when the cats and butterflies are around.  So the date is TBD.


Best regards,



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