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Every Adirondack Monarch is important. The last generation of Monarchs born here late each summer are members of a "super generation" which lives nine months, far longer than earlier generations whose life span is usually about four to six weeks. The tiny, fragile creatures you see here will complete an incredible migration of up to 5,000 miles. This migration is threatened. Unless we act, our grandchildren may never see a monarch in the Adirondacks.
AdkAction has launched a program to protect milkweed, the native perennial wildflower essential to Monarch reproduction, and to expand late-blooming native flowers to feed Monarchs as they begin their incredible journey.
The easiest method for planting the packet of milkweed seeds you recieve inside a Monarch brochure from AdkAction.org is also likely to be the most successful. In late summer or fall, simply use a tool or your thumb to make a one-inch or so indent in the soil, put a seed or two in each spot prepared this way and cover lightly. Then let Mother Nature do her work. Milkweed seeds need vernalization and scarification -- going through a very cold spell for at least 3 - 6 weeks, and rubbing against rock and sand to break their seed coats. In the Adirondacks and most northern areas where common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) grows, nature does the best job of preparing the seeds for the next season. If you have a septic field, that might be one great place to plant milkweed. You can mow the septic field after the seed pods burst in late fall. After you get a good stand of milkweed, you can harvest some of the pods and play Johnny Appleseed by planting them in a new location, perhaps along a fence line or in a fallow field.
You will find information on more time-consuming and more difficult methods of starting your seed indoors on this section of our website.
Monarch butterflies only lay their eggs on milkweed leaves and their caterpillars eat only milkweed. (There are more than 100 types of milkweed.
The variety native to the Adirondacks is common milkweed, Asclepias syriaca. More than 90% of all Monarch eggs are laid on common milkweed.) About two weeks after a female butterfly deposits her egg on the under side of a milkweed leaf, the caterpillar which hatched from it forms a chrysalis on nearby plant material, and about twelve days later a new butterfly emerges. In the fall Monarchs hatched in our Adirondacks and elsewhere in the northeastern US and Canada are programmed to live up to 9 months, and to make an epic journey beginning here. They stop to rest and drink nectar to fuel their flight, lucky if they find a butterfly garden. Millions of Monarchs survive the 2,000-mile flight to Mexico where they winter in fir forests in a high-altitude mountain area.
In March they mate and fly to the southeast US. They stop, lay eggs on milkweed, and die. A new generation is born and continues north, always seeking fresh milkweed. Each of these north-bound generations lives six to eight weeks. It takes three to four generations for Monarchs to reach their home in the Adirondacks & Canada. The last generation born in the north is called the migrating generation because it lives much longer, making the entire trip in the fall to Mexico, wintering there, and flying back to the US coast. Adirondack lakes and streams are on the Monarch's migratory flyways to and from Mexico.
There are many inexpensive steps all of us can take to ensure a survial of the Eastern U.S. Monarch migration. Read specifics of what you can do.
A June 10, 2013 article in Yale e360 explains the philosophy and practicality of green highways. Read it, print copies and mail them to your local, county and state highway departments, as well as the office of your Congressman and Senators, with a short note of support.
AdkAction.org wrote a letter to every highway department in the Adirondack Park in May 2015 asking them to avoid roadside mowing from July 1 to mid-September to provide Monarchs the best chance of survival during their crucial reproductive weeks. Many departments have responded positively. For those concerned that roadside mowing will result in increased accidents, please see the report entitled "The effect of reduced roadside mowing on the rate of deer-vehicle collisions". There was no correlation between roadside mowing and the number of accidents.
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