Monarchs swarm local meadow of blazing stars on their fall migration.
In a backyard off Brimley, beyond paved-over expanses that were once farmland, the fall migration of the monarch butterfly can be seen in its full glory.
Every morning for the past two weeks they've been arriving like clockwork, by the dozens, sometimes hundreds, landing in Alan Bell's meadow of blazing stars (aka Liatris ligulistylis) on their way to winter feeding grounds in central Mexico and California.
They will join 300 million others making the trip, travelling a total distance of some 2,500 kilometres at 20 kilometres per hour and reaching altitudes in excess of 3,000 metres.
This year's migration started weeks early, a sign, experts believe, of the effects of climate change on the monarchs' shrinking habitat.
Butterfly lovers, eco groups like the World Wildlife Federation and education centres across North America (including the Naturium in Breslau, west of Guelph) are organizing releases of conservatory-bred monarchs to help boost their sagging numbers. One tagging program out of the U.S. will use all-weather polypropylene tags, info from which will be used to track the insects online.
The data collected, it is hoped, will help answer the many remaining questions about the migration, especially east of the Rockies.
Go to monarchwatch.org for more info. Or just plant some seeds next spring to attract your own swarm of black-and-orange beauties.