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Photo of the Day: Monarch Butterfly Chandelier

monarch butterflier chandelier in California

"October’s falling temperatures trigger the annual migration of millions of monarch butterflies across the continent. Every fall, these lovely butterflies fly thousands of miles from as far north as Canada to overwinter in California and Mexico. When swarms of monarchs pause en route to rest and feed on nectar-bearing plants, admirers will see them blanket trees and shrubs in orange and black."

The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service provided the following information on monarch butterflies.

Monarch butterflies are astonishing creatures undertaking one of the most epic migrations in the animal kingdom. Beginning around October, they fly from central and northern U.S. states and parts of Canada to Mexico and the coast of California, where they form dense clusters high up in the trees and hunker down for the winter months.

In 1997, a few scientists and volunteers in California, inspired by these brilliant insects, began an organized effort to estimate the number of butterflies forming these clusters along the coast, and the Western Monarch Thanksgiving Count was born.

Scientists also monitor the eastern overwintering population in Mexico. This year’s population reports indicate that monarch butterflies continue to decline. The eastern population occupied 7.19 acres of forest, which is a 27 percent decrease from the 2016-2015 occupied area of 9.91 acres. This was due to a series of severe storms that hit at the worst possible time for the monarch. With numbers already significantly down as a result of a variety of human-caused factors, particularly the steady loss of its milkweed habitat over many decades, these sorts of weather events impact the population particularly hard

The number of western monarchs counted this year was slightly greater than last year, but so was the army of volunteers. More than 100 volunteers monitored a record 253 sites and estimated western monarch numbers at nearly 300,000 butterflies. Despite the large effort to count monarchs, numbers were down at many of the historically large sites. This is the single greatest effort since the count began in 1997 and likely accounts for the increase in western monarchs compared to last year.

Quote of the Day:
“Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop away from you like the leaves of Autumn.”

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