Project tracking Monarchs' migration. Classrooms can participate by sharing sightings.
The migration population of Monarch butterflies reached an all-time low in 2013/14. Environmental conditions, including herbicide use and land use changes, have reduced the habitat needed for reproduction.
It is a North America-wide conservation effort to retain and improve Monarch populations. The City's Monarch Butterfly Program aims to enhance Monarch butterfly habitat in Barrie, raise awareness about this issue, and inspire national efforts to increase habitat for Monarch butterflies across Canada. You can help!
The Monarch is a beautiful example of the benefits of pollinating insects; its life cycle includes pollination of flowers, fruit bearing plants, shrubs and trees. Loss of these insects contributes to global decrease of pollinating plant life.
The Monarch butterfly is showy orange and black with small white spots, relatively large with a wingspan reaching 93–105 millimetres. The Monarch’s caterpillar is easily recognized: It has black, white and yellow stripes and can be found feeding on milkweed plants. After their feeding and growth stage, the Monarch caterpillar moults into a striking jade-coloured chrysalis with golden spots.
Throughout their life cycle, Monarchs use three different types of habitat:
The Monarch’s range extends from Central America to southern Canada. In Canada, Monarchs are most abundant in southern Ontario and Quebec where milkweed plants and breeding habitat are widespread. During late summer and fall, Monarchs from Ontario migrate to central Mexico where they spend the winter months. During migration, groups numbering in the thousands can be seen along the north shores of Lake Ontario and Lake Erie.
Plant a butterfly garden that includes Common Milkweed (Perennial Native plant). Monarch butterflies only lay eggs on plants in the Milkweed family. Milkweed host-plants are the only food Monarch caterpillars eat. Plants grow 60–120 cm (2–4') tall. Seed from mature plants disperses easily by wind action.
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