If you’ve been following Mill River Park’s Facebook or Instagram accounts this past week, you’ve probably seen pictures of tiny caterpillars crawling all over leaves. These little critters are Monarch Butterflies in the making. Monarchs are a species of special concern, and for this reason there are a number of organizations dedicated to their protection. Mill River Park is dedicated to becoming a certified Monarch Butterfly Waystation, hopefully attracting Monarchs during their migration between Canada and Mexico.
I’d like to open our blog with some background on this project. Earlier this summer our Mill River Stewards identified two locations in the Park that are suitable habitats for Monarchs. These areas are high in milkweed, where Monarchs lay their eggs, and nectar plants that adult butterflies use as food. Later in the summer, a volunteer group from Pepsi Co. came and planted even more nectar plants in these locations. We then submitted a request to an organization called The Monarch Watch, who approved our sites and sent us 100 caterpillars.
Now, we are in the process of incubating the caterpillars in a controlled habitat. We could have released them into the Park, but for their protection we are keeping them in a terrarium until they’ve metamorphosed into adult butterflies. The entire process should take about one month. Check back here in a couple days for another update, and also keep an eye on our social media accounts for more pictures!