Yesterday I first notice a 1/8 acre sight in a remote hay field (see photo) and reported 500 larvae. This morning I heard haying equipment in the area so we went and started gathering larva up to relocate. We had collected well over 500 but I was then able to talk to farmer into leaving the 1/8 acre uncut. We reintroduced the ones we had gathered and surveyed the area. Above the 500 larva estimate yesterday I am adding 1500 more.
Editor's note: we have contacted observer for more details on this sighting.
Observer's comments: It was an amazing day today. We were overwhelmed with trying to gather as many as possible ahead of the haying and we had three 5 gallon buckets crammed with milkweed and larva. We were seeing 20 to a plant. I was gently shaking them off into the bucket. When we relocated them after the farmer agreed not to cut, we then spread them out as much as possible since they were using up so much of the milkweed. They were very active in trying to get to the fresh milkweed. We saw many dozens of milkweed stripped bare of leaves.
As far as the estimation goes: We collected (within our 3 buckets) I would say were 500ish larva. That represented less then 1/10 of the milkweed site we were on and I would say that it was 1/8 to 1/4 acres.
I am guessing that the areas that had already been stripped bare also contained many chrysalis. Our estimate I feel was conservative. Like many things what you can see in the insect world with your eye turns out to be a fraction of what is really there.
It has been a phenomenal year here. We have seen a steady presence of monarchs since late July. Unlike last year when they all seemed to appear within 2 week period late in the year this year has been at a much healthier pace and much earlier.
We have 11 chrysalis on our home from the milkweed we have within our gardens. Throughout the day I see 2-3 in the air no matter where I am walking. I was out today scouting old apple trees in open farmland and saw them constantly.
We have been to Macheros in Mexico twice to see the over wintering monarchs and seeing these larva today has really closed the loop for me. We have really tried to incorporate milkweed throughout our home site and it is really paying off.
A note about the photo: Here’s a picture of the field from the road. You can see the area that the farmer did not hay. It is on the left side of that distant field roughly triangular shape.
I have since found out that this isn’t a new occurrence for that field. I spoke to the owner and they plan on adjusting the haying schedule next year to accommodate the monarchs. He’ll try to accomplish all their haying by the first week of July. After that is when we typically see monarchs beginning to arrive in numbers.
Randolph Center, VT
Latitude: 43.9 Longitude: -72.5
Observed by: John
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