Mia Monroe, volunteer with The Xerces Society, and coordinator of the Western Monarch Thanksgiving Count, says that the news is “very exciting.” “This is the first year monarchs have been observed resting and clustering in Berkeley’s Aquatic Park,” she says.
Wildlife writer and photographer Elaine Miller Bond has the story:
In late October, Berkeleyside received a tip that thousands of tiny fish were jumping in the waters of Aquatic Park.
Less than three weeks later, we received another “scoop” about the park that throngs of monarch butterflies were clustering in the trees.
Monarch gathering places, called “roosts” or “bivouacs,” are well-known in Pacific Grove and Santa Cruz. The “Berkeleyside” Web site has more photos and videos of the Monarches, as well as these comments about the rebound in numbers of Monarches, after a ten-year decline.
California monarchs suffered declining numbers for ten years or more; they began to rebound in 2014.
“The cause or causes [of the past decline in monarch populations] remain unknown,” says Professor Shapiro. “But they are not related to the amount of milkweed; we were seeing lots of milkweed not being used because the butterflies weren’t there to use it!”
Milkweed is the monarch’s “host plant,” the only plant it eats as a caterpillar and the plant upon which females lay their eggs. Some people grow milkweed in their gardens in the hopes of attracting monarchs.
Berkeleyside also offers links to other Web sites about Monarch butterflies and these tips on how to be “Monarch-friendly” –
- Don’t spray herbicides or pesticides.
- Grow nectar plants that butterflies prefer.
- If you’d like to grow larval (“host”) plants, consider native milkweeds.
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