Observation of the week – August 3-9, 2019

It’s about time that we featured a Monarch as our observation of the week! This one comes to us from user @alisonforde: https://inaturalist.ca/observations/30261810

The Monarch has now taken over as the most observed species of the blitz and has surpassed the Red Admiral by quite a bit. This large and recognizable species is beloved by many, and is the second most observed species on iNaturalist in North America (having been recently surpassed by the Mallard).

This particular Monarch is a male – which you can tell by the two thickened black spots on the veins of the hind wing, where male Monarchs store the chemicals called pheromones that they use to attract females.

You may not be used to thinking of butterflies as aggressive, but male butterflies can be quite territorial; they will fly up and chasing away any other butterfly (or sometimes any other flying insect) that comes into the airspace above a good habitat patch. In fact, the other day I watched a male Monarch in my garden chase off a Robin from ‘his’ milkweed patch – not once, but twice!

Most people are familiar with the remarkable migration made by Monarchs each year. Did you know that two of the people who helped to figure out the whole story of Monarch migration were biologists from Toronto? Fred and Norah Urquhart studied Monarchs for years, and were perhaps the first people to run an insect-based citizen science project with their Monarch tagging project.

You can learn more about Monarch migration and Fred and Norah’s story in this Nature of Things episode: https://www.cbc.ca/natureofthings/episodes/the-great-butterfly-hunt

Posted by lltimms lltimms, August 13, 2019 12:48


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