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Some monarchs have been found that are missing abdomens. Vern Fisher - Monterey Herald. But upon closer examination, he was startled to find that they were all missing their abdomens.

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The mystery of the zombie monarchs is unfolding across the Central Coast, with additional incidents reported in Santa Cruz. The butterflies are often found clinging to life — their abdomen removed with seemingly surgical precision. Connie Masotti, a docent at the Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History, has also found several of the gutless butterflies. Based on their observations, Masotti suspects that the predation happens just before sunrise, since the butterflies are still alive when the docents get to their stations in the early morning.

Stong says that last season, he and several volunteers found around of the monarchs.

Vern and His Butterfly Migration

The organization is largely leading the charge in monarch butterfly conservation, and partners with people such as Stong who work at institutions with large numbers of volunteers. Western monarch butterflies have toxins called cardenolides in their bodies that can make them poisonous to many animals. When monarchs are caterpillars, they gobble up milkweed, the plant that gives them these cardenolides. This starch material is more expensive, less protective of the products we ship, and heavier leading to greater shipping costs than the usual oil-based packaging materials normally used by most companies.

We think it's worth it. We also re-use all of the boxes we can and send the rest off for recycling.

  • Pontia daplidice - Wikipedia;
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We even re-use and re-condition all of the wooden pallets that we can. We, and other small, butterfly-rearing companies, have recently come under fire by well-intentioned butterfly enthusiast groups. Their principal concerns are as follows: Released butterflies compete with native butterflies for food sources. To quote, "There's only so much food out there for them. Released butterflies that are migratory may not be able to migrate. Released butterflies may be of a different genetic make-up than wild butterflies and cross breeding may result in unwanted characteristics. Released butterflies die.

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I would like to address the above concerns in order: Butterfly food is not a problem. The number of released butterflies compared with those already in the environment is extremely small. Far more butterflies find their early end on the grills and windshields of cars and trucks than could ever be released. If food were a problem for the caterpillars of butterflies, larvae could be found on almost every plant. This is not the case.

Discover the Story Behind Mexico's Monarch Butterfly Migration

No small amount of effort is required to find them. I have spent many hours in the field attempting to collect specimens for possible culturing and examinations, and I can assure you they are extremely hard to find. The limiting factors for butterfly populations are not the available host plants, but diseases , predation , and weather.

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Food for butterflies is abundantly plentiful and not a valid concern in maintaining their populations. Concerns about possible diseases spreading from the released butterflies to wild populations, are equally unfounded. Any rearing system that attempts to rear a population of animals without the strictest control of diseases, is doomed to failure. All populations of animals in the wild come equipped with pre-existing diseases. The first step in attempting to culture any animal collected from the wild, is to eliminate those diseases. Not doing so guarantees failure.

Audio of this week's essay is posted above. Today's essay first aired in September two years ago. This is the time of year that anyone with an interest in birds on the Cape and Islands has been waiting for. From now through October, not only is the birding the best of the year but pretty much the best of everything occurs - including home-grown vegetables, lots of fresh fish and greatly reduced crowds and traffic. I am already ruing the fact that 3 days are gone in September and the fall is proceeding much too rapidly. That said, the birding, as always happens when Labor Day Weekend occurs, has gotten much better and each day holds great promise.

July flew by and so now are migrant birds in larger numbers. With August upon us, bird migration has begun in earnest for many species, especially Arctic nesting shorebirds. These long distance travelers are literally the wind birds as they cruise from the High Arctic in the northern reaches of land on the planet to the southern end of the continents in the Southern Hemisphere. They keep to a travel schedule that we really cannot imagine. At this time in July, gulls are fledging young, the beaches are crowded with people, making it time to talk about behavior at the beach.

Gulls are adaptable, and once they figure out how to find a meal they quickly learn new behavior. They have beach smarts, often operating like a rogue gang, terrorizing beach goers. They are getting smarter as you read this. While most Cape and Island residents and visitors thought little of Hurricane Arthur, its arrival here on the 4th of July was very bad news for many nesting birds.

Most noticeable in fields and woods is the rapid and pronounced decrease in bird song.

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  6. Recovering from the exhausting ordeal of defending a territory, courting, mating, providing for a brood of young birds all the while on the alert for a wide variety of predators, the adult birds are eating, resting and growing new feathers.