Dear new and returning Dummerston Monarch Welcoming Committee,
Saturday, June 19th was the official start of our 2021 project. I spent three hours at the beautiful Bunker Farm distributing swamp milkweed plants (free, thanks to an AVCC grant), saying hello to those of you returning for the second year of the project, and welcoming 7 new participants/families. I gave away all but a few plants. If you want more, hurry over to Bunker Farm in the next day or two.
Over the course of the season, you will receive emails from me about a variety of topics related to Monarchs. If you would like to share information, photos, videos, articles, etc., please respond to all. However, if you have a specific question for me, please do not copy all. I want to save you from getting too many unnecessary messages.
Since this is the first message for the 2021 project, I want to make sure I cover lots of ground, and I apologize in advance if this is repetitive for some of you. The information I share will also be posted on the Dummerston Conservation Commission website, along with information I provided to participants in 2020. We have our own blog!
For those of you planting swamp milkweed for the first time, I recommend you plant it among flowering annuals and perennials that attract pollinators. If you want to easily see Monarchs in action at all stages of their life cycle, plant the swamp milkweed not too far from your house. Full or part sun is fine. It is happy in any kind of soil, but will need room to get big over the next few years.
Two weeks ago, I participated in a Zoom training to collect data for the Monarch Larva Monitoring Project (MLMP), which is a national program sponsored by Monarch Joint Venture. After the training, I spoke with outreach coordinator Julia Whidden and described to her our community project. Since MLMP uses data collected from citizen scientists all over the country to understand Monarch population health and trends, she is encouraging anyone interested to get trained and begin collecting data. The expectation is that you will monitor once a week throughout the season. Information about online training which you can do at your leisure is on this Google drive link. MLMP and Monarch Joint Venture are terrific resources!
Regardless of whether or not you decide to officially monitor Monarch larvae in your garden, make sure you have a magnifying glass and a notebook or sketchbook handy so you can keep your own records. It’s fun to look back week to week and year to year. Also, take lots of pictures!
If the Monarchs do indeed show up, I will invite small groups of you to my garden so we can have an opportunity to practice larva data observation and collection. I will have magnifying glasses and some cool materials for you to use while you’re here. Workshop dates and times TBD.
Last of all, but first in significance, a big thank you to Helen O’Donnell for growing such sturdy and beautiful plants for our project!