Picture Ohio! – Monarch Migration at Wendy Park

Monarchs at Wendy Park, Cleveland Lakefront
Monarchs at Wendy Park, Cleveland Lakefront

A weather front brought rain and strong winds from the northwest to the Cleveland Lakefront over the weekend, together with thousands of migrating monarch butterflies. Wendy Park, just east of Edgewater Park, has a small woodland as well as a variety of trees along the edge of the lake, and several thousand monarchs, newly arrived from Canada, were resting in groups of a hundred or more along the sheltered, south side of the woods when I drove into the park around 8:00 am on Sunday morning.

Monarchs at Wendy Park, Cleveland Lakefront
Monarchs at Wendy Park, Cleveland Lakefront

Most of the monarchs had their wings closed, revealing the paler underside or ventral surface of the wings, but as the temperatures began to warm and a few shafts of sunlight penetrated the cloud cover, a few of the monarchs opened their wings to reveal the brilliant orange upper surface, striped with black lines.

Monarchs at Wendy Park, Cleveland Lakefront
Monarchs at Wendy Park, Cleveland Lakefront

Most people who are interested in nature are aware that the population of monarchs in eastern North America has declined by 90% in recent years. In the United States, conversion of marginal land to corn and soybeans has greatly reduced the milkweed that is a critical component of the monarch’s life cycle. At the same time, milkweed in corn and soybean fields has been virtually eliminated by the widespread use of glyphosate-based herbicides (i.e. Roundup) in corn and soybean farming throughout North America. During the same period, deforestation of the monarch’s winter habitat in the mountains of Mexico has reduced the acreage available to monarchs, and recent studies suggest that many of the remaining trees may be eliminated due to the warming effect of climate change by 2030.

Monarchs, Wendy Park-
Monarchs at Wendy Park, Cleveland Lakefront

Earlier this year, in February, the federal government pledged $3.2 million to help restore 200,000 acres of monarch habitat and establish a conservation fund that will encourage farmers to conserve land for monarchs and other pollinators. This is a token investment, at best, but it’s a step in the right direction. Planting milkweed in residential gardens is another initiative that can help monarchs to survive.

 

This Post Has One Comment

  1. Ian, thanks for the information regarding the 2017 Monarch Migration at Wendy Park while at your slide presentation in Zanesville on July 18th.

    I drove to Cleveland today after being in Avon, Ohio and was able to find Wendy Park off St. Clair’s Street. However, it was very crowded with people enjoying various activities and music in the area. Due to limited time for me to drive back home I wasn’t able to see any butterflies.

    A local advised me that the monarchs were there, flew away, but have returned in the past several days.

    I’m raising monarch butterflies and have tagged and released thirty-one. Eleven more to
    go before all caterpillars are fully grown, formed their chrysalis, and appear as newly formed butterflies. It’s exciting to be a part of their development!

    Love your images of the 2017 Monarch Migration to Wendy Park!

    Sincerely, Pam Klopfer
    Baltimore, Ohio

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