January 16, 2007

Monarch Butterfly Rescue

In California we've been experiencing a fairly intense cold snap that has caused flora and fauna not accustomed to the cold some real hardship. Several days of below freezing weather have damaged much of the California citrus fruit crops, although it will be a few days before the real damage can be assessed. Coastal California is also a haven for insects and birds that feed on the insects during the winter. This weather has had quite a profound effect on all the insects, including the famous Monarch butterflies.

The Monarchs cluster together in clumps when it is cold, but multiple days of below freezing nights and days where it stays below 55 degrees can put quite a stress on the population that winters in the normally balmy eucalyptus groves of Santa Cruz.

This past weekend I visited a friend who lives in the Live Oak neighborhood of Santa Cruz. In the afternoon we walked over to the eucalyptus grove behind her house to the grove where the monarchs have found a good winter home. When we got there we found a woman who monitors the grove and rescues monarchs when they are distressed.

She searches the ground for any monarchs that have fallen off their cluster (at this point they are quite comatose), carefully picks them up, puts them into a card board box, takes them back to her home where she gives them a meal of sugar water to eat, tags them and then brings them back to the grove the next day and puts them on a suitable leaf to cluster. Once they are settled in they can survive the cold night as long as they cluster together. Here's a picture I took of a bunch she'd brought back after a nice vacation at her house dining and flying and soaking up the warmth.


Perhaps the next time you see a monarch butterfly, you will see one wearing one of her tags that says it was tagged and released in the Live Oak neighborhood of Santa Cruz, California.

Posted by Mary at January 16, 2007 12:20 PM | Environment | Technorati links |

Tell her thanks. I have an acre planted in prairie plants and it is a real joy to see them come through my field. And my thanks to you for bringing these little tales of redemption for our species. karen

Posted by: 11 dogs at January 17, 2007 05:23 AM

I'll do that Karen. Btw: I love your handle. Do you really have 11 dogs?

Posted by: Mary at January 17, 2007 10:42 PM


White House Tries to Sell Iraq Plan to Skeptical Republicans

Posted by: SDCCD at January 18, 2007 10:44 PM

Good job!! found one of these baby's after a storm here friday in a water puddle...still alive but seems to be having a real problem taking off...any suggestions? It's been cold ever since I have him in a bug box with some sugar water.thanks

Posted by: midge at February 3, 2007 01:54 PM