Learn, Participate, Conserve
Today we are monitoring several monarch butterflies in various stages. Some are still eating and moving around, others are in their J stage, while several others have just formed a new chrysalis, like our favorite larva (caterpillar) Truman (from the Truman show - we've been watching every stage since he hatched. Truman is the chrysalis just to the right of our very first reared monarch butterfly of the year. She made her appearance around 9:30, and Truman formed his chrysalis alongside her about 1/2 hour later. Needless to say, this has been a very exciting morning at Naturedigger!
Watch for monarch butterflies laying eggs on milkweed across the country right now. If you spot a female (see monarch SOS app to learn the difference between males and females) flitting from one small milkweed plant to the next, especially those lacking flowers, be sure to check under the leaves, you may see tiny cream colored or white eggs have been laid. This is exciting to say the least, since monarchs have been declining dramatically over the past 10-20 years. It's too early to say whether they are making an official comeback, however, major strides have been made with respect to monarch conservation. Mowing practices have been altered to accommodate hatching larvae, cities and towns have begun planting pollinator gardens to support adult monarchs (and other pollinators) once they've eclosed from their chrysalises, and communities in general are taking steps to eliminate pesticides that kill milkweed, the larval host plant of monarch butterflies. These seemingly small steps could make a huge difference and could be the reason monarch butterflies return in large numbers to our landscape.
In New Hampshire, we have the rare opportunity to see karner blues, one of the country's most endangered butterflies. Below are a few pics from a recent visit.
Top Left: Karner blue wings closed
Top Center: Female karner blue
Top Right: Male karner blue
Bottom Left: Male and female karner blues
Bottom Center: Male karner blue
Bottom Right: Female karner blue
After a brief hiatus, we're back and getting busy. Today we're making buoys for marking aquatic invasive species (AIS). These bright yellow or red floating markers will be used during AIS surveys as well as for marking harvested plants. Buoys let boaters know to steer clear until we give the "all clear!"
Pollinators come in all shapes and sizes, and this week (June 19th-25th) we're celebrating them! What are you doing to help out our pollinators? Maybe you're making a pledge to stop using harmful chemicals on your lawn or in your garden, or maybe you're planting a pollinator garden. We'd love to hear from you, so please leave us a comment below!
We visited one of our favorite stands of cow parsnip today while collecting data for our Rash Plants app. This is a seriously cool looking plant, but don't touch it! If the sap gets on any part of your skin, then sunlight shines on the area, you can come down with a nasty case of phytophotodermatitis, which is a chemical reaction that makes skin hypersensitive to sunlight. Exposure will most likely cause severe burns and leave a nasty scar. Admire this one from a distance! This plant is often confused with its close relative, giant hogweed.
Emily, our field assistant (and very good sport) took a minute to pose for a sweet photo next to poison sumac. She's not only a great field assistant, but we think she'll make a fine biologist, since she can ID this very toxic wetland shrub and is also a poison ivy ID guru. We don't think contact dermatitis is in Emily's future! Check out the Rash Plants app if you're not familiar with poison sumac.