Monday, September 21, 2009

Till Next Year

Monarch on Stiff Goldenrod at the Prairie Hill Farm prairie remnant

Tomorrow is the Autumnal Equinox...it's amazing how fast summer went by.

One sign of this around Prairie Hill Farm is the Monarch migration and roosting. This is one insect that really gets me excited each year - in the spring and the fall. The fall population now feeding and roosting here is called the "Super Generation"...they're different than the ones that arrived last May or stayed during the summer months. This Super Generation of Monarchs has the ability to switch off the aging mechanism of previous generations (whose life cycle could be measured in just "weeks"). This Super Generation will go on to complete an amazing migration of 3 thousand miles - and then live for more than another 8 months! (8 months for a Monarch is the equivalent of a human living for 600 years!)

We've been having smaller "roosts" here on the acreage this summer. Last year we had between 400 and 500 Monarchs roosting in the trees here on one night. "Roosts" is the term for numbers of Monarchs staying overnight together in a group; why they do that I'm not sure but it's really a sight to see. To view part of the Prairie Hill Farm Monarch roost of 2008, go to the Watchable Wildlife website link at the bottom of this page (http://www.watchablewildlifenwia.org/links-Videos.htm) and click on "Monarch Migration".

Roosting has been lower here this year and I have been reading that the population is at it's lowest since 2004, so that may have some bearing. Life recently has not been kind to our continent's most fascinating insect...with some recent hard freezes during the winter in their mountainous Mexican sanctuaries, and illegal logging in those sanctuaries as well, things are getting tough. Here's to a pretty cool bug - hope to see you next year, and forever after that!

Happy Autumn!



2 comments:

M.L. said...

Great capture!

Prairie Painter said...

Thanks Mike...too bad they've left for the year!