Thursday, September 20, 2018


Monarch butterflies have been pretty scarce in northcentral Pennsylvania over the last several years; apparently that was true throughout their range. It has been estimated that the overall population has declined by more than 80 percent in the last 20 years.

The population decline has been widely lamented in both the popular press and scientific circles – and attributed to various causes, or a combination of them: habitat loss to development or clearing for agriculture; insecticides; herbicide use that has eliminated the milkweed that is the larvae’s sole food; destruction of the small area of Mexican pine forest where the butterflies overwinter; and/or the changing climate.

Surprisingly, this summer and early fall monarchs seem to have been everywhere that milkweed, asters and other flowers of the field were in bloom.

Peering beneath milkweed leaves it’s been possible to find numerous monarch caterpillars of various sizes –

And somewhat later in the season the beautiful chrysalises –

After 10-14 days the chrysalis becomes very dark –

And the butterfly emerges
The newly emerged adults will gradually journey  south to a handful of hilltops in the mountains of Mexico on an amazingly long migration for an insect –

And the cause for what is an apparently sudden abundance? Will it continue or was this a one-time occurrence due to local conditions? Is it an actual population increase or just an illusion?


Cathy Kennedy said...


Fabulous captures! I remember we did a study on butterflies during our homeschooling days where I got a butterfly garden for our children to watch the process. It was really cool. We also used to travel to the section of the Blue Ridge Parkway where Monarch frequent toward the end of summer in route to Mexico. We haven't done that in years. I think I recall reading that there's been a decline in Monarch activity on the parkway, though. Great share. It's nice meeting you!

Aditya Narayan Mohanty said...

Lovely shot of butterflies . Please tell something about my capture on my blog.

Mary Howell Cromer said...

I have been finally seeing some good numbers on the Monarch in our area. I had the pleasure several years ago to watch the stages that you have shared on life cycle and it is amazing transformations. Your images tell a perfect story~

Jacqueline Donnelly said...

I've been seeing lots of Monarchs, too! Lots were feeding in a field of sunflowers I visited this week, and they even sat still for the picture-taking, spreading their lovely wings wide. But I remember one late September a decade or so ago, when I was paddling on the river and there were so many in the air I could reach out my hands and touch them.

eileeninmd said...

Hello, Beautiful post and I love the Monarch photos. I have been seeing some Monarchs but not an abundance of them. Thank you for linking up and sharing your post. Happy Sunday, enjoy your day and the new week ahead.

Lady Fi said...

Wow - fabulous shots.