Monarch Migration arrives in Southwest Virginia

The change of seasons signals many things, but for me fall means it is time for the annual Monarch Migration. For those of you who are intrigued by this amazing feat, this is our time of year. Fall temperatures hint that winter will be here before we know it, and nature begins to put on a show as the woods become alive with the reds, yellows, and oranges of fall. How can you not love this time of year?

Butterflies may seem like delicate creatures but when you hear that this same fragile insect can fly several thousand miles it makes you realize they must be pretty mighty. Monarchs are not the only butterfly to migrate but they fly the longest distance on their journey. East of the Rocky Mountains on the North American continent, they will fly to Mexico, West of the Rockies they will fly to the southern part of California.

Monarch Migration

As the days get shorter the Monarchs will begin to head south congregating in larger numbers as they leave Canada and head towards Mexico. Along the way predators or weather may affect them but ever larger numbers will accumulate.

At 11:00 on Saturday Sept 15th.   join butterfly lovers at Flying Flowers at Beagle Ridge for the 3rd Annual Monarch Tagging event. Flying Flowers, Southwest VA’s only walk through butterfly house, is home to many native species of butterflies including the ever popular Monarch.

Take a look at this picture from last years tagging event. This little sticker will stay on the  wing as this beauty makes the journey to Mexico.

2011 Tagging Event

This program which is sponsored by the University of Kansas which has been using the data collected by this program to track the Southern Monarch Migration. Enjoy a program about the lifecycle of the butterfly before we catch, tag and release the Monarchs. By participating in this event you will become one of the many citizen scientists across the country who help collect data as they head off on this journey.

Data Collection

Scientists are trying to learn more about how Monarchs find their way to and from the places where they spend the winter.

The marvel of how such a delicate creature can make such an amazing journey is second only to how they can navigate on a trip which they make only once and from which they never return. Millions will gather in Mexico’s Oyamel fir forests and stay there in diapuase, a kind of hibernation, until spring at which time they will feed, mate, and head north.  And so the cycle begins anew. On the northern migration they will lay eggs and those eggs become caterpillars, chrysalis and the new butterflies emerge and continue the journey. The butterflies that complete this journey are the off spring of those that left in the fall.

Come experience one of nature’s miracles as we release this year’s Monarchs on their amazing journey. Registration is requested. contact us at beagleridge@gmail.com or 276-621-4511 to register and be sure to bring your camera. Enjoy last years pictures at www.flyingflowersva.com.

For further information see Monarch Watch. www.monarchwatch.com or if you are a teacher and would like to add this to your curriculum go to www.learner.org/jnorth. Field trips to Flying Flowers are available as well as in-school visits.

Ellen Reynolds | Beagle Ridge Herb Farm

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