Monarch butterflies reign supreme at Merkle Wildlife Sanctuary


The Maryland Department of Natural Resources invites everyone to Merkle Wildlife Sanctuary to celebrate the fall migration of the monarch on September 25 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Adults and children of all ages are encouraged to participate in a variety of activities, including monarch tagging and releasing, a Scales & Tales exhibit, hay walks, hikes and tours, crafts – and what’s new for 2021, a monarch costume contest and a sale of native plants.

Photo by Stephen Badger, Maryland Department of Natural Resources.

In the northeast, monarchs from southeastern Canada begin to migrate south in early fall (September and October). Many of these individuals will fly to central Mexico where they will overwinter in a single mountain forest in central Mexico. Meanwhile, the monarchs will congregate in the oyamel firs.

In February and March, wintering monarchs will begin their journey north and east, laying eggs on the milkweed as they go. The eggs that hatch into larvae are the next generation. Young caterpillars feed on milkweed, which makes them unpleasant to predators.

After pupation and the emergence of new adults, these butterflies will continue their push north. Several more generations will follow, all continuing the journey north, until the last generation reaches Canada and begins the cycle again.

Merkle Wildlife Sanctuary is a 1,900 acre natural resource management area in Prince George County.

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