Monarchs, Milkweed & Michigan

Monarch with Red Mulch Background by Charles Bonham

Monarch with Red Mulch Background by Charles Bonham

The GT Pulse has an in-depth interview with Cyndie Roach if the GT Butterfly House and Zoo in Williamsburg outlining the generation spanning migration of the monarch butterfly from the Oyamel fir forests of Mexico to Michigan:

…They fly over the Gulf with their first stop being in the Texas panhandle area.

“They land there, take a break, and breed by the millions, lay eggs, and then they die. That super generation has lived all winter and is now ready to make that trip to Texas. So that first generation born in the United States will know to start flying north when they’re born.”

The entire butterfly birthing process takes 30 days. Part of the inherent will to go north has to do with milkweed. It’s the plant that signals them home.

“It’s the single host plant, meaning the caterpillar needs to eat it to become a butterfly. They’re looking for milkweed to lay their eggs on. We don’t even have Milkweed growing yet in the early parts of spring. It doesn’t come up until May and June, so what’s great is that as our spring comes on and things start to get warmer, that’s what’s welcoming the monarch to the area.”

The second generation of monarchs that were born in Texas makes it to the midline of the States, roughly around the Rocky Mountains where their babies will be born, and like their parents and grandparents before them – they’ll know to keep flying north.

“By the time they reach us we’re looking at the third generation typically. So it’s their grandchildren we’re now seeing arrive in Michigan.”

Remember that milkweed Cyndie was talking about? Northern Michigan provides milkweed that some of those third-generation monarchs will use to lay their own eggs. So the butterflies that are going back down to Mexico are the fourth generation of those first butterflies coming from the Oyamel fir forests.

“That’s why it’s so important that we as Michiganders, specifically up here in Northern Michigan, provide as much milkweed habitat as we can for these amazing creatures. We play such an important role, because not only are we the ones who see them come in in the spring, but we help them create a lifecycle.”

Milkweed plays an important role in aiding the monarchs in their generational journey, but also, being cautious with fertilizer and lawn care products. The monarch butterfly population has declined 90 percent over the past two decades, which is directly related to the milkweed population being destroyed.

Read on for lots more, check out the Michigan DNR page on Monarch butterflies & for sure plant milkweed if you can!

Charles took this last week. Head over to his Flickr for lots more!

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Must be something in the water…

Must Be Something in the Water by Diane Charvat

Here’s some sunny sunflowers to start your week that Diane captured near Montague. See more in her Flowers album & head over to her Flickr for more great shots!

If you’re in a sunflowery mood, there’s more great Michigan sunflower shots on Michigan in Pictures!

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Canadian Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly

Canadian Tiger Swallowtail by David Clark

Butterflies & Moths of North America says that Canadian Tiger Swallowtails are typically smaller than Eastern or Western Tiger Swallowtails. They are found in Canada as well as Alaska and the northern Great Lakes states.

David captured this gorgeous butterfly feeding on his coneflowers. Head over to his Flickr for more and definitely check out his blog Cliffs & Ruins too!

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Tulips at Dow Gardens

Tulips by Rhonda Bonham

Tulips by Rhonda Bonham

Rhonda caught these tulips in glorious bloom last weekend at the Dow Gardens in Midland:

Established in 1899 as a home for Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow and family, Dow Gardens now welcomes over 300,000 guests per year. Experience a dazzling 110-acre display of annuals and perennials punctuated by distinctive bridges, an award-winning children’s garden, towering pines, and delightful water features. Your admission includes access to Whiting Forest, home to the longest canopy walk in the United States.

Whiting Forest of Dow Gardens features 54 acres of woodlands, ponds, apple orchard, meadows, and stream. Guests of all ages and abilities are immersed in the forest on the nation’s longest canopy walk, 1,400 feet long, soaring up to 40 feet above the ground. The Alden B. Dow-designed Whiting home now welcomes guests as a Visitor Center. Other features include a playground, apple orchard, Whiting Forest Cafe, restoration of Snake Creek, and two pedestrian bridges.

You can see more in Rhonda’s Tulips gallery on Flickr.

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In Honor of the Vernal Equinox

In Honor of the Vernal Equinox by Cherie

In Honor of the Vernal Equinox, photo by Cherie

SORRY FOLKS – STILL GETTING BACK INTO THE SWING OF THINGS! THIS WAS SUPPOSED TO POST YESTERDAY, SO I GUESS WE HAVE A 2 FOR 1 SALE GOING ON!!

The vernal equinox heralding the start of Spring happened at 11:50 PM Thursday night.  EarthSky editor Deborah Byrd’s article on the vernal equinox has a ton of great information, video, and illustrations and explains:

…there’s nothing official about it, it’s traditional to say the upcoming March or vernal equinox signals the beginning of spring in the Northern Hemisphere and autumn in the Southern Hemisphere. This equinox does provide a hallmark for the sun’s motion in our sky, marking that special moment when the sun crosses the celestial equator going from south to north … At the equinox, Earth’s two hemispheres are receiving the sun’s rays equally. Night and day are approximately equal in length. The word equinox comes from the Latin aequus (equal) and nox (night).

Read on for more including how you can mark due east and west from any location on the equinox!

You can see lots more from Cherie in her Flora & Foliage set on Flickr & see tons & bunches more flowers on Michigan in Pictures! Happy Spring everyone!

Good News for Michigan Honeybees

Around the Bend, photo by Daniel E. Johnson

The Traverse City Record-Eagle reports that the number of Michigan honey bee colonies is on the rise:

The number of honey bee colonies in Michigan rose about 16 percent over the last year. About 25,000 colonies existed at the beginning of 2016 in a census of operations with five or more colonies, according to the National Statistics Service of the United States Department of Agriculture. The comparable number on Jan. 1, 2017, was 29,000 colonies.

Varroa mites were the primary stressor of Michigan colonies over the last five quarters. They affected only 5.9 percent of the state’s bee colonies in the first quarter of 2016, but 64.1 percent of colonies in the third quarter of 2016. The Varroa mite is an external parasite that attaches to bees and weakens them.

The total number of bee colonies in the U.S. sank slightly during 2016, but held relatively steady at about 2.62 million colonies.

Colony Collapse Disorder symptoms were observed in more than 84,000 bee colonies in the U.S. from January through March 2017, a 27% increase from the same quarter of 2016.

View Daniel’s photo bigger and see more in his slideshow.

Lazy Summer Day

Lazy Summer Day, photo by David Marvin

View the photo background bigilicious and see more in David’s slideshow.

More summer wallpaper on Michigan in Pictures.

Going Purple for June

Siberian Iris, photo by Julie Mansour

Something that you may or may not know is that my mother has some form of Alzheimer’s spectrum brain disease that has progressed to the point where she no longer knows me, or herself. While there’s no really good terminal illnesses out there, Alzheimer’s and related dementias seem to me to be among the worst as they destroy much of the essence of the person you love long before taking their life.

June is Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month and if you click that link, you can see some great photos shared on the hashtags #ENDALZ & #MyAlzStory along with information  about efforts to combat these diseases and a way to donate.

View the photo background bigilicious and see more in Julie’s slideshow.

Spoon Flower

Spoon flower, photo by Bailwick Studios

The photographer writes that this flower might also be called a spooned daisy, African daisy, or a caped daisy.

View the photo background bigtacular and see more in Bailwick Studious slideshow.

More flowers on Michigan in Pictures!

Blue Monday

blue, photo by Curt Saunier

View Curt’s photo bigger and see more in his Flowers slideshow.