Each summer along the New Hampshire Seacoast, nature lovers eagerly await the arrival of the monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus). With its brightly colored black and orange wings, and frequent visits to flower gardens and milkweed fields, the monarch is the most easily recognized butterfly. This year, Seacoast Science Center (SSC) will be offering a Monarch Butterfly program, free with admission, during the monarchs’ migration period in the Seacoast region.
Monarch butterflies begin their migration in Mexico each March and travel north throughout the summer. Between July 28th and August 6th, Journey North, an organization focused on the conservation of migratory species, holds an annual Monarch Monitoring Blitz. The Blitz will call on citizen scientists to help gather and report observations of monarchs and milkweed; the host plant where monarchs lay eggs and caterpillars feed.
Monarch butterfly numbers are steadily declining and they are considered an endangered species. Threats to the monarch include habitat loss, climate change, and pesticides that harm the milkweed population (source: Nature Conservancy). Monarch butterflies are key pollinators and essential to the health of our planet. Tracking their migration patterns and population will provide valuable information that will help us understand and preserve this species.
SSC’s programs will coincide with Journey North’s Blitz. Programs will be held at noon on Friday, July 28th, Saturday, July 29th and Saturday, August 5th, and will run for approximately a half hour. During the educational program you’ll learn about the monarch butterfly, their lifecycle, where they nest and why, and their yearly migration. You’ll also learn how to identify milkweed, eggs, larvae, chrysalis, and monarchs. SSC’s naturalist will also talk about documenting this data, including photos, that will be shared with Journey North for this year’s Blitz.
Through this program, SSC is hoping to inspire our visitors to become citizen scientists in their own backyards, by sharing what they’ve learned, documenting information in their yards and neighborhoods, or planting a pollinator garden. There is no pre-registration—just visit SSC on any of the dates above if you are interested in learning more about monarch butterflies.