Here we are in year two of our Monarch Watch project at Mill River Park, and we are currently patiently awaiting the arrival of about 100 Monarch caterpillars from The Monarch Watch! They have lots to look forward to when they reach us; plenty of Milkweed harvested from Mill River Park to munch on and a roomy terrarium to develop in until they are ready to be released. If you followed our blog, which began last summer, you know that we are a registered Monarch Waystation, and each year we hope to release 80-100 Monarch Butterflies in the heart of Stamford, CT.
Already we have been seeing Monarchs in our riparian meadow habitat, doing their due diligence by feeding on nectar plants and pollinating all along the way. Their attraction to the Park lies in the several pollinator friendly species cultivated here such as Scarlet Bee Balm, Purple Cone Flower, New England Aster, Columbine, and of course, Milkweed. Adult female Monarchs are selective in that they will only lay eggs on the Milkweed plant, and the resulting larva can only feed on the leaves of the Milkweed plant. Thus growing this particular plant in your habitat is key to attracting these critters.
Females use a combination of visual and chemical cues to find Milkweed. Upon their migratory arrival in the early spring from California and Mexico, it is imminent for them to find this particular plant in order to lay their eggs before they die and a new generation can begin.
Check back each week for a Mill River Park Monarch update! We will be sure to keep you in the loop throughout their development into adult butterflies. In the meantime be sure to take a walk through the Park and scout out the adult Monarchs already out and about, and if you snap a picture of a Monarch, please send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.