Now people are encouraging others to peep into what the butterflies are doing and send paparazzi pics.
The challenge seeks to fill a “data gap” in recorded sightings during March, April and May when monarchs are passing unseen between breeding sites.
Those looking to participate in the challenge can submit photos through the Western Monarch Milkweed Mapper project on iNaturalist — a crowdsourcing naturalist app jointly sponsored by the California Academy of Science and National Geographic — or by emailing them to MonarchMystery@wsu.edu.
No Privacy For Monarchs
Maybe the butterflies hate the tourists too. I certainly avoid places where they gather.
Roughly 30 people — sanctuary docents, volunteers and interested members of the public — gathered in the sanctuary Thursday morning to listen to Stuart Weiss, the chief scientist contracted by the city to develop long-term planning for the 2.5-acre site. Weiss described what goals he and the city want to accomplish to help monarchs, including dealing with tree species, microclimates and the plants monarchs rely on for nectar.
Why So Few Monarchs?
Probably birds. Wouldn’t it be odd if it was hawks brought in to control
sea gulls finding the town’s symbol more tasty than gulls.
The butterflies are often found clinging to life — their abdomen removed with seemingly surgical precision.
“Their abdomen is just severed clean off, like you took it off with a scalpel,” says Stong, who is also the regional coordinator for the Xerces Society’s Western Monarch Thanksgiving Count.
Connie Masotti, a docent at the Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History, has also found several of the gutless butterflies. Based on their observations, Masotti suspects that the predation happens just before sunrise, since the butterflies are still alive when the docents get to their stations in the early morning.
Zombie Butterflies On The Loose
“Over the past 20 years, we’ve actually seen a fairly steep decline in monarchs,” said Govea, citing data from the Xerces Society, which tracks numbers nationally. “You used to be able to see them in George Washington Park in P.G. but the last time people saw them there was a decade ago.”
As director of exhibits and education for the museum, Govea is more concerned with his home turf. He said the verdict on whether or not it’s a strong year for monarchs on the Monterey Peninsula is still out. That will remain the case until the weekend after Thanksgiving when the Xerces Society does their big count.
“We won’t know until the end of the season when we have the full count,” said Stong. “It’s impossible to say at this time it’ll be a better than average year. It’s just really cool to be seeing them come back for another year and we hope they continue to fill in.”
Monarchs Arriving On Time
Fish & Wildlife to grant money for restoration and improvements.
“We walk around and talk about the state of the sanctuary and what the activities are that we have decided are good for the grove,” said Weiss. “The idea is that we want to be open and transparent about why we recommend doing certain things to keep every one on the same page about what’s happening in the grove.”
That transparency is so important to Weiss and city officials because of the past mishaps that have occurred with the city’s management of the sanctuary.
Money For Monarchs
Lost their rental homes to newcomers from Fresno?
Who is The Xerces Society? They just told us that the Monarch population was up in February. Sounds like a global warming ruse.
A new study by the Xerces Society showed a 74 percent decrease in the number of monarch butterflies over the last two decades.
Butterfly conservationists at the Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History monitor the monarch numbers on the Monterey Peninsula and said the study’s results come as no surprise. They are similar to a trend conservationists are seeing locally.
“Their numbers are going down,” museum representative Patrick Whitehurst said.
Butterfly Population Is Dwindling
Showing a sign of improvement, but more prefer the hot tubs in Marin,
Each year the Xerces Society does an annual Western Monarch Thanksgiving Count.
“There’s volunteers all along the west coast, primarily in California that are counting over wintering sites during the three weeks around thanksgiving,” said Pacific Grove Museum Director of Education Ann Wasser.
Those numbers, which were just made available, show that almost 280-thousand monarchs made the long journey. And while it’s a big difference from the 1.2 million that use to fly to the California coast during winter, it is higher than previous years for most places.
“For Monterey County our numbers were not as high as they were last year. Counties farther north of us, especially Marin County, had much higher numbers this year,” said Wasser.
Butterfly Population Is Increasing
Maybe the cost of housing is keeping them away.
Volunteers and officials with the Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History recently counted 11,000, down from 18,000 this time last year. That count seems to buck a coastal trend, although not all the counts are in.
Sarina Jepsen, the director of the Xerces Society’s endangered species program, said that from the 145 sites counted so far, the monarch count actually seems to be up from last year. Jepsen’s program aims to raise awareness about the plight of invertebrates that are declining.
Maria Rodale visits the monarch sanctuary, searches real hard to blame something that’s not organic for the decline. Besides, isn’t it the caterpillars someplace else that munch the milkweed?
I arrived around 10 a.m. and saw…nothing. OK, I saw one tiny monarch flitting about like it was a bit drunk. The sanctuary itself is also kind of…sad. Its entrance is between a motel and some garbage cans. It’s very small, and surprisingly, there was no gift shop! I thought back to when I researched the place on the Web and recalled that it was very hard to find. Hmmm…
Undaunted, I drove downtown to the Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History, where I asked what was going on. “Oh, they are there. If you go back at noon there is a docent who will show them to you. They can be hard to see.” But, I asked, was the population declining? “Absolutely,” she said. The current population was only a quarter of what it was just 10 years ago, she added. I asked what she attributed it to and she said “urban growth, habitat loss, lack of milkweed.” What about agricultural chemicals? I asked. “Oh, that’s more of an East Coast problem,” she said.
Visitors Want Milkweed And Gift Shops
With our city on the job, the best they can come up with is spending about $80,000 on a shuttle bus to bring butterflies over from Santa Cruz.
A thinning canopy of trees may be a factor in the reduced numbers of monarch butterflies visiting the Pacific Grove sanctuary, two scientists told the City Council last week.
The council voted unanimously to direct City Manager Thomas Frutchey to convene a meeting of interested parties on the butterfly issue, engage Weiss to update and expand the sanctuary management plan, and direct the city’s Natural Resources Commission to oversee the plan update. No meeting date has been set.
Tree Cutting Could Have Caused Monarch Decline