NEWPORT NEWS—As part of Monarch Watch 2021, the Virginia Living Museum released approximately 15 monarch butterflies with wing tags on Saturday, September 22, much to the delight of a group of children and parents who got to help in sending the butterflies off on their journey. The small paper dots used to tag the butterflies will be used to track the migration patterns of the monarchs. Tagging helps to answer questions about the origins of monarchs that reach Mexico, the timing and pace of the migration, mortality during the migration, and changes in geographic distribution.
According to VLM Aquarium Curator, Patrycja Lawryniuk who led the release, the monarchs themselves are not endangered, but they are severely threatened by pesticides, global climate change, sprawl, and illegal logging of forests where they migrate for the winter. They are also threatened by habitat fragmentation, having lost an estimated 165 million acres of breeding habitat in the United States to herbicide spraying and development.
Eastern monarchs will fly 3,000 miles or more to winter in parts of Texas and Mexico. When the weather warms again in the northern climates, they will make the journey back. Monarchs are the only North American species of butterfly that can hibernate through the winter as adults. Others must hibernate as eggs or pupae.
Those who see a butterfly with a tag are encouraged to report the tag data to Monarch Watch. This information helps to track their migratory patterns and provides other valuable data.
VLM Extends Native Plant Sale
The VLM’s native plant sale has been extended through the weekend of October 2–3, from 9am to 4pm. Interested parties may stop by the VLM in person or they can shop online.
According to a press release from the VLM, this is the 35th year the museum is offering unique plant species for sale, including native VLM nursery-propagated perennials, vines, shrubs, and trees for local yards and gardens. For a helpful plant guide, download the VLM’s Plant Guide Handout.
Gardening with native plants not only creates a beautiful garden, it also provides food and shelter for native wildlife, including pollinators found in the Museum’s Butterfly Haven, which is open through early October.
The plant sale will take place in the museum’s conservation garden and museum admission is not required to enter for the sale (but is required for full museum access).