Butterflies

Strange Butterflies Reported at Goose Pond Sanctuary

Monarch tagging is underway at Goose Pond Sanctuary, with sessions happening on September 9 and 16. Nearly 100 monarchs were tagged on the 9th, but in the morning session, the strangest species of butterflies appeared...

She might look innocent, but she has her eye on something....  (Maddie Dumas, Goose Pond Sanctuary land manager, and Jim Otto, MAS volunteer). Photo by Arlene Koziol

She might look innocent, but she has her eye on something.... (Maddie Dumas, Goose Pond Sanctuary land manager, and Jim Otto, MAS volunteer). Photo by Arlene Koziol

A rare Danaus plexippus gigantus maddius was captured at Madison Audubon Goose Pond Sanctuary. Fortunately master butterfly scooper Jim Otto spotted the maddius. He approached it slowly, gave a war cry, then swept the net forward quickly and captured the maddius before it landed on the terrified Everett Reetz.

Danaus plexippus gigantus maddius captured.jpg

The maddius is a species of special concern in Wisconsin and has never been sited in Columbia County. [Story by Arlene Koziol]

Then, imagine our surprise when in the afternoon session, these incredible specimens fluttered out to the prairie!

Giant monarch twins feasting on showy goldenrod.  Photo by Mark Martin

Giant monarch twins feasting on showy goldenrod. Photo by Mark Martin

Monarchs seem to be getting larger to cope with climate change. Twin female monarchs (Danaus plexippus gigantus) visited Goose Pond Sanctuary Saturday afternoon September 9th on their migration to Mexico.

Mark was lucky to photograph a monarch releasing a monarch (probably should be submitted to the Guinness book of World Records). 

Photo by Mark Martin

Photo by Mark Martin

He also found the monarchs nectaring on showy goldenrod just before Sharon Brancel tried to net them. When we attempted to tag them, we learned they had already been tagged at birth, and were named Lisa Vetter Boyd and Heidi Vetter. [Story by Mark Martin and Susan Foote-Martin]

Photo by Mark Martin

Photo by Mark Martin

Help tag monarchs at Goose Pond Sanctuary

Releasing a freshly-tagged monarch butterfly.  Photo by Arlene Koziol.

Releasing a freshly-tagged monarch butterfly. Photo by Arlene Koziol.

Bring your whole family and join us at Goose Pond Sanctuary to help with conservation efforts to track declining populations of monarch butterflies. 

Photo by Arlene Koziol

Photo by Arlene Koziol

Madison Audubon works with monarchwatch.org to capture and tag butterflies at our Goose Pond Sanctuary for monitoring efforts throughout their migration route. You can help with this important citizen science effort!

According to the US Fish and Wildlife Service, the recognizable orange-and-black butterfly species is in trouble. "Threats, including loss of milkweed habitat needed to lay their eggs and for their caterpillars to eat, are having a devastating impact on their populations and the migration phenomenon. Unless we act now to help the Monarch, this amazing animal could disappear in our lifetime. The state of Monarchs reflects the health of the American landscape and its pollinators. Monarch declines are symptomatic of environmental problems that also pose risks to food production, the spectacular natural places that help define our national identity, and our own health. Conserving and connecting habitat for monarchs will benefit many other plants and animals, including critical insect and avian pollinators, and future generations of Americans."

Attend a tagging event at Goose Pond on September 3rd or 10th to help with this important effort. Please register! We will be unable to support additional trip attendees due to limited materials and impact on the land.