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Butterfly Magic

October 24th, 2016 by Mike Vasilinda

In this time of political strife, questions about secure borders and a wall between the US and Mexico, Mike Vasilinda has a story about a mass migration that won’t give you heartburn.

The majestic monarch. Millions are on their way to Mexico. And year after year, one of their favorite resting places is here in St. Marks along the Big Bend of Florida.

Normally, the monarchs live just a month, but a hormone kicks in when the temperature drops, extending their live to seven or 8 months, making the migration to Mexico possible.

“I got one. Oh No” exclaimed Victoria Benson of Lakeland as we watched.

The butterflies attracted these two Polk County high schoolers. they’ve been coming since 2012, conducting a science experiment:

“We can tag that one, we haven’t tagged that one” Victoria told friend Taylor OByrne as the two dabbed at a butterfly’s stomach.

The are measuring levels of a Protozoan that caterpillars ingest from Milkweed and carry into adulthood as a butterfly.

“A lot of Farmers are applying more pesticides and everything to their crops and killing Milk weed because it is invasive, so when there is no milkweed, they have no where to go, no where to eat” taylor told us.

Victoria chimed in as well.  And without the small areas of the food web and without pollination stuff, we;’re not going to have what we can, so we need to do what we can to save our environment.”

In year’s past, these trees have actually appeared more black and orange than green from hndreds, even thousands of animals.

Cheryl Lachance says this year’s crop small. Really small.

“See the canopy on this one here where you have a few of them, times it by about twenty, thirty.”

The butterflies return in the spring, lay their eggs, and then die, only to leave next years migration to a new generation of monarchs.

The butterflies normally hand around the wildlife refuge through the middle of November, depending on the temperature. When they leave, they will follow th gulf coast into Texas and then Mexico.

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