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Nectaring Monarch Butterfly

A monarch butterfly nectars on a common daisy

Although monarch butterflies only lay eggs on milkweed--the only food their larvae recognize--they nectar from a variety of flowers including the common daisy. [One of seven related images. See Next Image.]

More About this Image:
As part of her National Science Foundation (NSF)-supported Monarch Butterfly Larval Monitoring Project, Karen Oberhauser of the University of Minnesota is implementing a nationwide citizen science project focused on the life-cycle of monarch butterflies. Oberhauser and other researchers from the university are training naturalists and environmental educators throughout the U.S. at 11 host sites. Participants in the first round of training will then train volunteer monitors. The target audience for volunteers is adult/child teams who will monitor a field or patch of milkweed plants--the food plant of monarch caterpillars--for the entire summer. They will count eggs and caterpillars also known as larvae, with the entire group surveying a grand total of more than 25,000 milkweed plants each week.

The project website shows temporal and spatial data and will provide interpretations of volunteer observations. List servers support the project and augment a monthly newsletter and the website. In addition, mini exhibits have been created to highlight the project at participating nature centers. These exhibits focus on monarch and insect ecology and conservation, as well as local and population-wide monitoring efforts. It is estimated that 90-150 nature centers will participate in the regional training and they in turn will train almost 5,000 volunteers. [This research was supported under NSF grant ESI 01-04600.] (Year of image: 2001)

Credit: Michelle Solensky, University of Minnesota

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