Monarch butterflies stop in Missouri during southerly migration

4 years 3 days 9 hours ago Sunday, September 21 2014 Sep 21, 2014 Sunday, September 21, 2014 6:16:00 AM CDT September 21, 2014 in 8 Goes Green
By: Elise Moser, KOMU 8 Reporter

JEFFERSON CITY - At Moreau Heights Elementary School in Jefferson City, a small native plant garden is attracting monarch butterflies. The butterflies are flying through Missouri as they migrate south to their winter home in the mountains of Mexico, stopping along the way to feed on nectar and lay eggs.

Monarch butterflies are facing habitat loss all over North America. The World Wildlife Fund ranks their extinction risk at "near threatened," and a 2013 WWF report found the monarch population was at its lowest in 20 years. Conservationists in Missouri are hoping to help by conserving original prairies and encouraging Missouri residents to plant milkweed plants, the only plant monarch caterpillars are known to eat.

"The more milkweeds there are along their way, the more their population can be sustained," said Carol Davit, executive director of the Missouri Prairie Foundation. Davit helped plant the Moreau Heights Butterfly Garden, where her son attends school.

(Photo: Carol Davit, executive director of the Missouri Prairie Foundation, checks out a plant at the Moreau Heights Elementary School Butterfly Garden in Jefferson City. Davit helped plant the native plant garden at her son's school.)

Monarch butterflies migrate north from Mexico in the spring, sometimes settling as far north as Canada. As the weather cools, the butterflies head south to Mexico. They can be found in Missouri during the last few weeks of September and the beginning of October.

When monarchs migrate, they don't fly straight from Mexico to the northern United States and Canada, Davit said. Instead, their migration is more like a conveyer belt, stopping along the way to lay eggs and feed on nectar from flowers.

By the time the butterflies fly south, they are actually several generations younger than their ancestors who migrated north just a few months before.

Because the lifespan of the butterfly is so short, habitats that support monarchs are important to sustaining the population. In Missouri, that means places with milkweed.

(Photo: A monarch caterpillar feeds on a milkweed plant at the Moreau Heights Elementary School Butterfly Garden in Jefferson City.)

Besides their need to feed on milkweed, monarchs are pretty low-maintenance insects.

"They are sun-loving, open-country butterflies," Missouri conservation contractor Mike Arduser said. "That can be from somebody's backyard. They're in urban habitats and wild habitats, and everything in between."

Arduser advocates planting milkweeds. They're diverse and easy to care for, and they thrive in many different environments.

"If people plant milkweed in their yard, there's a very good chance that you're going to have monarchs show up," he said.

Missourians hoping to catch a glimpse of a monarch might be in luck. Monarch Watch, a monarch butterfly research program based at the University of Kansas, reported an increase in monarchs during the spring. The organization is predicting a much larger population will be heading south over the next few weeks compared with 2013.

Missouri Prairie Foundation projects like prairie restoration and maintenance, which the Missouri Prairie Foundation works to do, can continue to help bolster the monarch population.

The organization also has a program called "Grow Native," which encourages Missourians to plant native plants, including milkweed.

Missouri has 18 species of native milkweed, about 12 of which occur on prairies. Davit said restoring and maintaining prairies is a great way to help the monarch butterfly.

Arduser said he thinks the monarch helps connect people to nature, because most people can recognize and identify one when they see it.

"They're a great ambassador for the little things on the planet," he said.

(Photo: A monarch butterfly samples some nectar from a flower Moreau Heights Elementary School Butterfly Garden in Jefferson City. The butterflies can be found around mid-Missouri until the beginning of October as they migrate south to Mexico for the winter.)

 

More News

Grid
List
JEFFERSON CITY - A federal grand jury added charges in the case against a man accused of trying to buy... More >>
12 minutes ago Monday, September 24 2018 Sep 24, 2018 Monday, September 24, 2018 2:21:29 PM CDT September 24, 2018 in News
WASHINGTON (AP) — Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein headed to the White House on Monday expecting to be fired by... More >>
4 hours ago Monday, September 24 2018 Sep 24, 2018 Monday, September 24, 2018 10:30:53 AM CDT September 24, 2018 in News
ST. LOUIS (AP) — St. Louis police are investigating a rash of six killings over a two-day period, with five... More >>
6 hours ago Monday, September 24 2018 Sep 24, 2018 Monday, September 24, 2018 8:17:00 AM CDT September 24, 2018 in News
CASSVILLE (AP) — A $1.9 million renovation of a southwestern Missouri trout hatchery won't interfere with the tens of thousands... More >>
8 hours ago Monday, September 24 2018 Sep 24, 2018 Monday, September 24, 2018 6:19:00 AM CDT September 24, 2018 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - Ameren Missouri announced a rate decrease for electric starting Monday. The Missouri Public Service Commission approved... More >>
12 hours ago Monday, September 24 2018 Sep 24, 2018 Monday, September 24, 2018 2:28:00 AM CDT September 24, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - Missouri Task Force 1 is in Kinston, North Carolina waiting for its next mission. The task force's... More >>
16 hours ago Sunday, September 23 2018 Sep 23, 2018 Sunday, September 23, 2018 9:58:00 PM CDT September 23, 2018 in News
(CNN) -- Lawyers for Christine Blasey Ford said in a statement on Sunday that she has committed to testifying in... More >>
20 hours ago Sunday, September 23 2018 Sep 23, 2018 Sunday, September 23, 2018 6:31:00 PM CDT September 23, 2018 in News
WASHINGTON (AP) — Farmers across the United States will soon begin receiving government checks as part of a billion-dollar bailout... More >>
20 hours ago Sunday, September 23 2018 Sep 23, 2018 Sunday, September 23, 2018 6:27:00 PM CDT September 23, 2018 in News
ATLANTA (AP) — The Latest on the Tour Championship (all times local): 5:58 p.m. Tiger Woods is a... More >>
21 hours ago Sunday, September 23 2018 Sep 23, 2018 Sunday, September 23, 2018 5:12:00 PM CDT September 23, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - According to Missouri state law, all children over the age of eight do not have to ride in... More >>
21 hours ago Sunday, September 23 2018 Sep 23, 2018 Sunday, September 23, 2018 4:51:00 PM CDT September 23, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - Columbia police are searching for a person who ran away from a traffic stop in south Columbia around... More >>
22 hours ago Sunday, September 23 2018 Sep 23, 2018 Sunday, September 23, 2018 4:22:00 PM CDT September 23, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - Both China and the United States' newest round of tariffs go into effect on Monday. The US' tariffs... More >>
23 hours ago Sunday, September 23 2018 Sep 23, 2018 Sunday, September 23, 2018 2:51:00 PM CDT September 23, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - Over 100 activists walked around Stephens Lake Park on Sunday to raise money and awareness to end hunger... More >>
1 day ago Sunday, September 23 2018 Sep 23, 2018 Sunday, September 23, 2018 11:58:00 AM CDT September 23, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - One person died and another was hurt in a one-vehicle crash Sunday morning. Police said Perri A.... More >>
1 day ago Sunday, September 23 2018 Sep 23, 2018 Sunday, September 23, 2018 9:57:00 AM CDT September 23, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - Missouri basketball forward Mitchell Smith was arrested early Sunday morning by the Boone County Sheriff's Department and charged... More >>
1 day ago Sunday, September 23 2018 Sep 23, 2018 Sunday, September 23, 2018 8:45:00 AM CDT September 23, 2018 in Sports
CLAYTON (AP) — A St. Louis man has been sentenced to 30 years in prison for a 2012 police chase... More >>
1 day ago Sunday, September 23 2018 Sep 23, 2018 Sunday, September 23, 2018 8:27:14 AM CDT September 23, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA – About one in 10 children are subject to sexual abuse, according to a local expert on the subject.... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, September 22 2018 Sep 22, 2018 Saturday, September 22, 2018 11:18:00 PM CDT September 22, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - A water main break in MU's Hearnes Center early Saturday morning caused at least $100,000 worth of damage,... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, September 22 2018 Sep 22, 2018 Saturday, September 22, 2018 7:17:00 PM CDT September 22, 2018 in News
Columbia, MO
Broken Clouds 74°
3pm 76°
4pm 76°
5pm 77°
6pm 78°