Monarch Citizen Science Training

On Saturday, May 6, 2017, the Atlanta Botanical Garden Pollinator Garden Coordinator, with funding from US-FWS Biologist Deborah Harris, organized all pollinator gardens to participate in a Monarch Citizen Science Training. The workshop was held at the Urban Conservation Training Institute, part of the Greening Youth Foundation, thanks to Site Manager Whitney C. Jaye who hosted this event.

Susan Meyers is Monarch Watch Conservation Specialist and the Monarchs Across Georgia Pollinator Habitat Restoration Grant Administrator. Susan is also a trainer for the Monarch Larva Monitoring Project, one of several Monarch Citizen Science programs. We learned Danaus plexippus, the monarch butterfly, has been going through an all time low in their populations in Mexico, USA, and Canada. Scientific research points out several factors for this decline, like loss of habitat in Mexico and Canada, loss of native milkweed in the USA, pesticide poisoning, and diseases.

Grove Park Community Garden, Welch Street Community Garden, Four Corners Community Garden, Linsday Street Park, Vine City Park and Blue Heron Community Garden members participated in this training. They received Monarch Watch Waystations certificates thanks to our project with Park Pride in installing pollinator gardens in five of those community parks. Lindsay Street Park and Vine City Park have pollinator gardens that were established in 2015-2016, and ABG continues to work with them.

The Monarch Joint Venture of the University of Minnesota Department of Fisheries, Wildlife and Conservation Biology, “is a partnership of federal, state agencies and non-governmental organizations and academic programs that are working together to protect the monarch migration across the lower 48 United States” link to the site. They have several informational sheets like Milkweed Infomation Sheet, Monarch Conservation: How to get involved, Gardening for Monarchs, MJV fact sheet and much more that you can download here Resources.Here are some of the Citizen Science projects that were discussed and you can choose one or all to participate!

Here are some of the Citizen Science projects that were discussed and you can choose one or all in which to participate!

Journey North is a global study of wildlife migration and seasonal change, and one of their many species that citizen scientist help track of are monarchs.  You can visit the Monarch Butterfly track, and report sightings. If you would like to know more about other species they are tracking you can go here:  Track Spring’s Journey North.

Monarch Watch is a Migration and tagging data collection program based at the Univesity of Kansas “that engages citizens scientist in large-scale research programs”.  The goal of this program is to estimate the size of the fall migratory population, mortality during migration and size of the overwintering population.

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Susan Meyers explaining how to tag a Monarch butterfly

 

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Whitney C.Jaye UCTI Site manager and Chris, Grove Community Garden member tagging another monarch

Project Monarch Health- Monarch parasites OE, Ophryocystis elektroscirrha, is a parasite, and single cell organism that infects monarch and queen butterflies. It was first discovered in Florida in the 1960s.  It has been found in all monarch populations around the world. No other hosts have been identified. Testing for this parasite involves obtaining a sample from the abdomen of the adult butterfly.

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Jalani Traxler, Welch Street Park garden member, grabbing a butterfly to collect a sample for OE

 

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Gently collecting superficial sample of abdomen to look for OE

Monarch Larva Monitoring Project (MLMP), involves the observation of the Monarch larva’s (or caterpillar’s) head capsule and tentacle length to determine its larval instar stage as well as being able to identify the egg, pupa, and adult. The Monarch experiences five instar stages between an egg and pupa. To learn more about the project ad report your findings, visit: https://app.mlmp.org/monitoring/app/Login.aspx.

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After the training ended we planted some plants (see table below) at the Urban Conservation Training Institute, which are good nectar and pollen sources for pollinators and a Georgia native milkweed which are the only plants a monarch larva will eat.

Nectar and Nest Sources plants for Monarch Butterfly
2 Passiflora incarnata Passionvine
2 Echinacea tennessensis Tennessee coneflower
3 Agastache foeniculum Anise hyssop
3 Glandularia canadensis Verbena
4 Pycnanthemum pilosum American mountain mint
2 Symphyotrichum novae angliae New England Aster
3 Eutrochium fistulosum Joe-pye weed
3 Coreopsis lanceolata Tickseed
1 Monarda fistulosa Beebalm
2 Asclepias tuberosa Milkweed

This Citizen Science training was a complete success, so much so that we will be planning to have one at the Atlanta Botanical Garden – stay tuned.