A Good Year for Monarchs?

During the last week of August, Regional Scientist Robert Buchsbaum and several Mass Audubon naturalists and scientists took a field trip to Conway Hills Wildlife Sanctuary just west of the Connecticut River in Conway, MA. While there, they were pleasantly surprised by what they saw. Here’s Robert’s report:

The initial goal of our exploration was to document the odonates (dragonflies and damselflies) that are present at this sanctuary. Conway Hills is a relatively new sanctuary for Mass Audubon so our records of species that occur there is still a work in progress.

While rambling through a big field in the center of the sanctuary, we couldn’t help but notice the large number of monarch butterfly caterpillars that were feasting on the milkweed plants in the field. Just about every one of the milkweed plants (the common milkweed—Asclepias syriaca) had a monarch caterpillar on it, busily chewing on leaves.

Monarch caterpillar at Conway Hills

This was very heartening to all of us, given how scarce monarch butterflies were last summer and the overall concern about the future of this stunning butterfly.

Have you noticed more monarchs this year?

Let us know in the comments!

This entry was posted in Nature Notes on by .

About Hillary T.

Where: Mass Audubon Headquarters, Lincoln Who: Massachusetts transplant by way of Florida and New York. Raising two young girls, who she hopes will be budding naturalists Favorite part of the job: Learning something new every day from some of the smartest and most enthusiastic groups of people

8 thoughts on “A Good Year for Monarchs?

  1. Marilyn Schmidling

    We are having a monarch explosion here in the midwest!!!! I live in Marengo, IL
    and this is the most we have seen in 25 yrs. I had 7 caterpillars on my butterfly weed alone. Every milkweed in the road ditches had caterpillars on them. I raised and released 24 butterflies. I have been doing this for 10 yrs now. My previous releases have been in the single digits. I’m thrilled for the monarchs!!!
    Hooray for the planet!!! ms.

  2. Kate Cherepowich

    Yes!! We’ve seen many butterflies in our yard in Rehoboth. We’re actually rearing 7 caterpillars in our kitchen right now that hatched out of eggs we found on our milkweed.

  3. P

    I have not seen many Monarchs in my garden, just a marked decrease in numbers. I have been planting pollinator plants for years. I also have milkweed. However,neighbors have been spraying for ticks and mosquitos. This may have impacted the butterfly/caterpillar population.

  4. Jane Jones

    There have been more Monarchs nectaring in my Easthampton garden this year than in any of the twenty years I’ve been in this spot. I’m hoping to attract more with a dedicated marsh milkweed patch. 🙂

  5. Cheryl Turgeon

    I have noticed lots of Monarch this year. I had a few milkweed grow in my garden a few years ago and left them. Now I have over 25 plants and the Monarch love them as well as my butterfly bushes. pepperell, MA

  6. Larry and Jean Rankin

    This has been a comparatively good year for monarch sightings in our flower gardens in Florence MA, feeding mostly on some butterfly bushes, and for the past week many monarch caterpillars are devouring the leaves and seed pods of several nearby butterfly weeds. We are hopping to get some milkweed started at the edge of an adjacent conservation area.


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