A Senior Citizen Science Project

A Senior Citizen Science Project

This Blogger and his Chief Editor, while attending the 2016 Whooping Crane Festival, had the opportunity to hear an expert speak about the life, biology, of monarch butterflies. The information presented was so informative and entertaining that we were motivated to become involved in the life cycle of the beautiful monarch butterfly. A Senior Citizen Science Project sprang forth on March 11 with the purchase of a $20 potted milkweed plant.

The monarch butterfly is found throughout the United States as well as Mexico and Canada. Astonishingly, these small insects can make a 3,000-mile journey in the fall of the year to their wintering location in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of Mexico or to southern California, depending on which part of the United States or Canada they migrate. The monarchs in this blog are migrating North from Mexico because they are on the eastern side of the Rocky Mountains. Monarchs can fly 50 to 100 miles per day; it can take up to two months to make the trip to their winter home. Monarchs produce four generations during one summer. The first three generations have a life span of 2-6 weeks and will continue moving north. During this time, they will mate and have the next generation that will continue the northward migration. The fourth generation is different. They can live up to nine months before the long journey to their winter home in California or Mexico.

The photographs in this blog are intended to inform and show the four stages in the fascinating life of a monarch butterfly. The four stages are:

  • The eggs stage which lasts about four days.
  • The caterpillar(larva) stage lasts about two weeks.
  • The chrysalis(pupa) stage lasts about ten days.
  • The adult stage of the Monarch butterfly lasts from 2-6 weeks and then the next generation process begins repeating the same process except for the fourth generation.

On April 17 our project ended when the last of our monarchs suddenly took flight from my finger in a northerly direction which caused happiness along with some sadness. Happy because our project produced 6 first generation female monarch butterflies; sad because they will never return – empty nest.

You should know that the monarch butterfly population has been on the decline due to habitat loss. One way to help is to plant milkweed to provide a place for the monarch butterfly to lay her eggs and provide food for the caterpillar. Spring forth with a Senior Citizen Science Project next spring

MILKWEED PLANT - MARCH 11 BEGINS THE PROJECT
MILKWEED PLANT – MARCH 11 BEGINS THE PROJECT
MONARCH LAYING EGGS - STAGE ONE
MONARCH LAYING EGGS – STAGE ONE
LARVA-CATERPILLAR - STAGE 2
LARVA-CATERPILLAR – STAGE 2
3 LARVA- CATERPILLARS - STAGE 2
3 LARVA- CATERPILLARS – STAGE 2
LARVA -CATERPILLAR - STAGE 2
LARVA -CATERPILLAR – STAGE 2
5 LARVA - CATERPILLARS - STAGE 2
5 LARVA – CATERPILLARS – STAGE 2
2 LARVA - CATERPILLARS - STAGE 2
2 LARVA – CATERPILLARS – STAGE 2
5 LARVA - CATERPILLARS - STAGE 2
5 LARVA – CATERPILLARS – STAGE 2
CATERPILLAR BEGINNING PUPATION - STAGE 2
CATERPILLAR BEGINNING PUPATION – STAGE 2
CHRYSALIS - STAGE 3
CHRYSALIS – STAGE 3
FIRST GENERATION FEMALE MONARCHS - STAGE 4
FIRST GENERATION FEMALE MONARCHS – STAGE 4
11 Chrysalis - STAGE 3
CHRYSALIS – STAGE 3
FIRST GENERATION FEMALE MONARCH - STAGE 4
FIRST GENERATION FEMALE MONARCH – STAGE 4
APRIL 17 THE LAST ADULT
APRIL 17 THE LAST ADULT
APRIL 17, SHE LEFT FROM MY FINGER HEADED NORTH
APRIL 17, SHE LEFT FROM MY FINGER HEADED NORTH

 

 

6 thoughts on “A Senior Citizen Science Project”

  1. I find this all so interesting, Michael. One day every summer the the monarchs appear in Maine and I so enjoy that. We have planted butterfly bushes and just love watching that bit of beauty every single year.

  2. Mike, this was fascinating!!!!! I have several comments and questions that I will leave for another time, so will save today’s blog.

    One year, the playground at Stults Ele. School was on the migration trip! The children and teachers spent a wonderful time as they flew around from lifted hand to head, to shoulder! It was the pre-quel to many classroom science lessons on the Life of the Monarch Butterfly…?

  3. You have observed a wonderful creature of God’s. The Friends of O. S. Gray Natural Area of which I am apart have established a butterfly garden where we have many come and breed. It is interesting to observe the stages. I had swallowtails on my fennal one year of which I got one butterfly after all the birds finished eating them. This is the park across the street from my neighborhood. My butterfly experts tell me our butterfly population is decreasing because of all the spraying we are doing for other insects like mosquitoes. It gets the butterfly s too. I helped a friend who is an elementary science teacher with a project about birds yesterday. It was fun. Paula

  4. Mike, I have a large patch of milk weed in my field. Son Joe’s wife Regina, a teacher, 2nd grade, picks the pupa and takes them
    to school for her students. Nice to see what you have done here. You are one up on me here, not like in fishing. Stay safe and Hi to Carol, Don & Aggie

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