Sunday, August 20, 2006

Monarch Butterflies
As children we used to collect monarch butterfly caterpillars in August at our uncle’s farm. We nurtured them through the process of becoming mature butterflies, feeding them fresh milkweed leaves and watching them create beautiful green chrysalises. Both butterflies and caterpillars were plentiful. Sandland brother used to collect butterflies along with other creepy things like snakes and spiders in the Don Valley, right in metropolitan Toronto. Since the 1960’s, with suburbs paving over meadows and farmland and extensive use of herbicides and pesticides, the population of monarchs has decreased dramatically. Add to that the deforestation of their winter habitat in Mexico and the species is definitely at risk.
We have acres of milkweed in fields around our home. The Becka and I went out this evening in search of caterpillars. We looked over hundreds of milkweed plants and didn’t find evidence of any larvae at all. Finally, we found a single caterpillar actively munching on a leaf and one adult monarch butterfly flying by too quickly for a picture. The caterpillars are not supposed to have predators as their exclusive milkweed diet makes them toxic to birds. They are susceptible to parasitic infections. I wonder what the chance this lone caterpillar has of wintering in Mexico?
(visit and for some great photos of the monarch cycle)


  1. That brings back memories. We used to love watching the butterflies break out, expand and then fly away.
    Very beautiful.
    And also parents that let me bring in the interesting things from the fields too. Nyahh.

  2. I heard something once from sand land dad or maybe it was nana about snakes in nana's bed...
    I love monarchs, it is said that man has wiped out so many of their habitates.

  3. I remember snakes in a terrarium in the bedroom, and snakes in the garbage can in the garage, but not in anyone's bed!


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