Monarch butterflies stop in Missouri during southerly migration

3 years 4 months 2 days 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
COLUMBIA - According to the National Center for Victims of Crime, people with disabilities are three times more likely to... More >>
5 hours ago Tuesday, January 23 2018 Jan 23, 2018 Tuesday, January 23, 2018 2:06:00 AM CST January 23, 2018 in News
JEFFERSON CITY — Missouri Republican Gov. Eric Greitens made his first public appearance in nearly two weeks since acknowledging an... More >>
13 hours ago Monday, January 22 2018 Jan 22, 2018 Monday, January 22, 2018 6:20:00 PM CST January 22, 2018 in News
WASHINGTON - It took three days, but Congress has passed a spending bill to end the government shutdown. If... More >>
14 hours ago Monday, January 22 2018 Jan 22, 2018 Monday, January 22, 2018 5:50:00 PM CST January 22, 2018 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - Gov. Eric Greitens addressed his affair for the first time in a news conference while announcing his... More >>
14 hours ago Monday, January 22 2018 Jan 22, 2018 Monday, January 22, 2018 5:15:00 PM CST January 22, 2018 in News
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley says he wants a change in state law so that... More >>
15 hours ago Monday, January 22 2018 Jan 22, 2018 Monday, January 22, 2018 4:44:00 PM CST January 22, 2018 in News
FORSYTH, Mo. — One of two suspects in the death of a 72-year-old Missouri man who was left beaten and... More >>
15 hours ago Monday, January 22 2018 Jan 22, 2018 Monday, January 22, 2018 4:41:04 PM CST January 22, 2018 in News
MOBERLY, Mo. — A Missouri paramedic is accused of burglarizing a patient's home and stealing medication from another home. ... More >>
15 hours ago Monday, January 22 2018 Jan 22, 2018 Monday, January 22, 2018 4:38:29 PM CST January 22, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA – Columbia residents got their say Monday night on how to make zero traffic-related fatalities a reality. Residents... More >>
17 hours ago Monday, January 22 2018 Jan 22, 2018 Monday, January 22, 2018 2:59:00 PM CST January 22, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA – An expert in infectious diseases said viruses like the common cold survive well on surfaces and inanimate objects,... More >>
17 hours ago Monday, January 22 2018 Jan 22, 2018 Monday, January 22, 2018 2:36:00 PM CST January 22, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - Gun shop owners and gun buyers had no problem buying or selling a gun during the government shutdown.... More >>
18 hours ago Monday, January 22 2018 Jan 22, 2018 Monday, January 22, 2018 1:35:00 PM CST January 22, 2018 in News
NEW MADRID (AP) — A southeast Missouri man has been sentenced to life in prison without parole for strangling his... More >>
19 hours ago Monday, January 22 2018 Jan 22, 2018 Monday, January 22, 2018 12:57:00 PM CST January 22, 2018 in News
WASHINGTON D.C. (AP) — The Latest on the budget battle (all times local): 12:55 p.m. It looks... More >>
20 hours ago Monday, January 22 2018 Jan 22, 2018 Monday, January 22, 2018 11:58:00 AM CST January 22, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - Columbia Police responded to a reported armed robbery just after midnight Tuesday in the 1600 block of Kitty... More >>
22 hours ago Monday, January 22 2018 Jan 22, 2018 Monday, January 22, 2018 9:55:00 AM CST January 22, 2018 in News
ST. LOUIS (AP) — A violent weekend in St. Louis has left two people dead and four others injured in... More >>
23 hours ago Monday, January 22 2018 Jan 22, 2018 Monday, January 22, 2018 9:00:00 AM CST January 22, 2018 in News
OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say an officer has shot and killed a suburban Kansas City teenager while responding... More >>
1 day ago Monday, January 22 2018 Jan 22, 2018 Monday, January 22, 2018 7:16:00 AM CST January 22, 2018 in News
KANSAS CITY (AP) — Authorities say a 9-year-old has been fatally shot in an exchange of gunfire in Kansas City.... More >>
1 day ago Monday, January 22 2018 Jan 22, 2018 Monday, January 22, 2018 7:00:00 AM CST January 22, 2018 in News
LAKE WALES, Fla. (CNN) -- Two improvised explosive devices detonated at a Florida mall on Sunday that has left police... More >>
1 day ago Monday, January 22 2018 Jan 22, 2018 Monday, January 22, 2018 5:58:00 AM CST January 22, 2018 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - Gov. Eric Greitens will release his budget recommendations for 2019 at 4 p.m. Monday. A press... More >>
1 day ago Sunday, January 21 2018 Jan 21, 2018 Sunday, January 21, 2018 10:24:00 PM CST January 21, 2018 in News
Columbia, MO
Broken Clouds 33°
8am 31°
9am 32°
10am 33°
11am 34°

Select a station to view its upcoming schedule:

Coming Up Next

7:00a
Today
9:00a
Megyn Kelly TODAY
10:00a
Today with Kathie Lee & Hoda
8:00a
The Steve Wilkos Show
9:00a
The Steve Wilkos Show
10:00a
Jerry Springer

Tonight's Schedule

7:00p
Ellen's Game of Games
8:00p
This Is Us
9:01p
Chicago Med
7:00p
The Flash
8:00p
Black Lightning
9:00p
KOMU 8 News @ Nine on The CW
9:30p
Seinfeld