Three monarch butterflies hatched in the monarch ranch this morning. This brings my current total to 25 (finally!)
It's been a disappointing season for my monarch ranch. Last year by this time, I had released my last monarch, with a total of 50 tagged. This year it's taken me since July 26th to reach a total of 25.
The biggest thing I'm seeing this year is that fully one-third of all the caterpillars I've brought in from outside have been victims of a parasite. Some of them have died before they even have the chance to turn into a chrysalis and at least 6 have died in the chrysalis. I'm not even seeing that many monarch butterflies in the wild so that meant I had a tough time even finding eggs on the milkweed leaves in my yard this year.
I'm not sure whether other people are experiencing the same problems with monarchs or not. I've heard from some other blogger friends that they aren't seeing the numbers of butterflies (of any species) like they have in previous years, so I'm wondering whether this is a nationwide problem and what are the influencing factors: climate change, drought, pesticide use, habitat loss, or a combination of all those? If any of you hear or see anything about this, please let me know. Thanks