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Monarchs massing in migration

Posted on Oct 21, 2014

This past weekend I visited a prime spot for Monarch butterfly migration: the coastal grasslands of Stratford Point in Stratford, Connecticut. Even four or six years ago one could expect to find hundreds of Monarchs at the site during the peak migratory period. The last couple of years have seen a dramatic collapse in their numbers in many parts of North America. As one of the most visible and widely known environmental disasters of the 21st century the plight of the species has been a subject of discussion for the masses.

Thankfully I was able to see a decent mass of Monarchs at this stopover site with at least 60 individuals and continually one or two flying by or through the property at a time. There were probably around 100 present as most were hunkered low in the grasslands out of the wind (and my sight, without disturbing them too much) and nectaring on clovers, goldenrod and other plants. I took a number of photos as I was delighted to be able to see the once common butterfly in such relative abundance.

Monarch butterfly Stratford Point RTPI-0324

Busy Monarch and busy bees, too

Monarch butterfly Stratford Point RTPI-0283

A lovely male (note the black patches on the hind wings)

Monarch butterfly Stratford Point RTPI-0306

Pollinators in action

Monarch butterfly Stratford Point RTPI-0290

Many were hidden right on the ground on clovers

Monarch butterfly Stratford Point RTPI-0279

Resting while out of the wind

I would hate to live in a world where finding a Monarch in the fall was difficult. These autumnal sightings are something to behold with butterflies gently flitting across the landscape, feeding and resting still far from the end of their journey south. Admittedly their losses have made me appreciate scenes like this all the more. It is going to be tough for additional individuals to pass through as the weather is shifting to more typical late October patterns with a much cooler week in store and more frosts and freezes across the Northeast.

The Monarch is emblematic species that can be saved while being used to further educate the public on why active conservation and management is vital to preserve even once abundant life forms in our natural world. Please keep teaching everyone you can why protecting nature and wildlife is important – especially the next generation!

Scott Kruitbosch
Conservation & Outreach Coordinator