Monarch butterflies rule at Merkle Wildlife Sanctuary

Photo by Stephen Badger, Maryland Department of Natural Resources.

ANNAPOLIS, Md. – The Maryland Department of Natural Resources invites everyone to Merkle Wildlife Sanctuary to celebrate the monarch butterfly’s fall migration 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 tagging and releasing monarch butterflies, a Scales & Tales exhibit, wagon rides, guided hikes and tours, crafts – and new for 2021, a monarch costume contest and native plant sale.

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

In February and March, the overwintering monarchs will begin their journey north and east, laying eggs on the milkweed as they go. Eggs that hatch into larvae are the next generation. Young caterpillars feed on milkweed, making them unpalatable to predators.

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

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

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