A female Monarch takes a break from oviposting to nectar in a flower garden

Since the Monarch Larva Monitoring Project training session back on May 20, several participants have chosen their survey locations and begun searching Milkweed plants for signs of Monarch activity. After a fairly uneventful May and early June reports are now coming in from monitors and other observers of a rapid increase in Monarch presence in Addison County. The first eggs started being found in the last week of June and larva were found not long after that. But it has been in the past week that business has really picked up. Adult Monarchs are easily found nearly anywhere I go looking for them and can be seen busily flying around and making deposits on milkweed plants. A few days ago on a non-monitoring walk I found a small patch of  just 14 Swamp Milkweed plants on the Middlebury College campus that was host to seventeen eggs, two 1st instar and one 2nd instar caterpillars. At my monitoring site, last week I found seven eggs and just one caterpillar, but this week I discovered 37 eggs and two caterpillars. Clearly I should expect an increase in my caterpillar numbers next week.

If you are interested in learn monitoring project, you can visit the Monarch Larva Monitoring Project website, or you can watch the training session we held at the Ilsley Library on the Middlebury Community Television website. But even if a project like this isn’t for you, you might find it fun and worthwhile to examine a few milkweed plants to see what you can find.

-Ron Payne

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