The annual migration of the Monarch Butterfly from southern Canada and the Northern United States to Mexico is one of nature’s most profound and mysterious phenomena. The scientific community still hasn’t quite figured out how these tiny, fragile creatures complete such an intimidating journey and arrive at their overwintering locations, but each year millions arrive just the same.
While tagging Monarchs to track their migration has failed to answer how they chart their course, it has provided some remarkable examples of their journey. Each September, the Niagara Parks Majestic Monarchs event gives visitors the chance to tag a Monarch for themselves before they embark on their journey. Experts help attach tiny stickers to the wings of these incredible creatures, each with its own unique tracking number. Then, everyone gathers to watch as they’re released!
This past spring one of our tagged butterflies was found at the Rosario Monarch Reserve in Mexico, over 4,000 km away!
The first documented tagging and tracking of Monarchs began with Canadian zoologist Frederick Urquhart in 1937, but it was nearly 40 years later in 1975 that was finally able to discover their final destination, leading to the discovery of dozens of sites in Mexico.
One of Urquhart’s most notable discoveries was that while a single Monarch makes the entire trip from the north to the wintering locations, the return trip consists of several generations of Monarchs. The butterflies tagged each year at the Majestic Monarch event are in effect a “super generation” with a longer life cycle, allowing them to reach their wintering destination and mate.
During the “We Are the Insects” exhibit, on February 6 through March 28 at the Butterfly Conservatory, the Monarch Teacher Network of Canada will be offering two workshops, Amazing Monarchs, Amazing Kids and Make Your Garden Monarch Friendly. Do not miss this unique opportunity to learn about these incredible creatures with 90-minute, in-depth, hands-on seminars on February 20 and March 12. Click here for additional information and workshop registration.
So long, Clive, and thanks for your spectacular and colossal bloom! One of our biggest Titan Arums, nicknamed Clive, bloomed on Father’s Day weekend. It was a long, three-year wait since Clive last bloomed. But the wait was worth it! By converting sunlight into chemical energy using photosynthesis, receiving daily doses of water and fertilizer from the greenhouse staff, and simply resting dormant for many months, Clive’s corm, a large underground bulb, grew until it was ready to bloom. The water, nutrients, and light produced enough stored energy to make a great, big bloom that rose 7 feet 2 inches (2 .18 m) above the soil level. The long anticipation turned to excitement for the many eyes tuned in to the live Niagara Parks Titan webcam when the swollen bud started to open at 6 pm on Saturday, June 20th. Soon the full expanse of the deep maroon flower could be seen. Some of the Titan Arum’s most dedicated fans managed to applaud, in person, the arrival of the flower that first night, and many more visited the second day and thereafter. All were rewarded with an olfactory barrage of rotting meat – the Titan Arum’s way of attracting pollinating, carrion-eating beetles and flesh flies in the wild. Continue reading
A giant Titan Arum bloom is imminent at the Niagara Parks Floral Showhouse and is expected to open in a few days. Clive, one of the biggest Titan Arums has a massive flower bud and now stands at 82.5” (209.5 cm) in height. But what is so amazing this time (Clive bloomed once before for us in 2012) is that the flower bud is the widest we have seen. Once the flower opens and the beautiful frilly, deep maroon spathe unfurls fully it is going to be a quite a spectacular show – even if Clive doesn’t reach world record heights. Finally, three months after the first sign of the flower bud poked through the soil, the long wait is over and blooming day is near.
To check on the status of the Titan Arum flower bud as it progresses toward opening day visit the live webcam at http://www.niagaraparks.com/titan .
The Floral Showhouse will be open extended hours when the flower is blooming. Come visit and celebrate this amazing and rare feat. It will be a visual and olfactory treat!