Park has eyes on Monarchs



PHOTO COURTESY THOMAS BESSON/WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

PHOTO COURTESY THOMAS BESSON/WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

ACADIA NAT’L PARK — Monarch butterflies are one of the most easily recognized butterflies in the park and all across North America. However, the monarch population is thought to have declined by more than 70 percent in the last decade, Superintendent Sheridan Steele announced Tuesday.

To help understand the decline, Steele said that park staff will be working with scientists and conservation specialists across the country by protecting areas of milkweed habitat found in the park and by being watchful for the adults and caterpillars.

The young monarch caterpillars depend on milkweed plants to nourish them and give them a special chemical defense against predators, which they obtain from their special diet of milkweed sap.

Acadia National Park is just one of about 50 parks to receive special funding this year to map locations of milkweed habitat, check these sites to learn if there are caterpillars or other life stages and then document when and where adults are observed, said Chief of Resource Management Rebecca Cole-Will.

Reports from visitors and residents can greatly expand and extend the efforts of park staff by giving current information on the locations of milkweed plants and monarch butterflies, as it is likely there is ample milkweed habitat outside the park. Visitors or local residents can contact the park at 288-3338.

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