Monarch Butterflies & Species at Risk​

"What do you like to eat for breakfast? I like to eat crayfish, bugs and little fish I find near the bottom of the Creek where it's nice and cool! A clean Creek bottom makes my breakfast yummy!"
Benny Burbot
Map showing location 7

Monarch Butterfly

The Lake Nipissing watershed is a critical area for several species at risk or of special concern - including the Monarch butterfly.

This patch of common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) alongside Chippewa Creek is the perfect habitat for the Monarch. Milkweed is a favoured food plant for the earlier larval life stage of Monarch butterflies, and there are also many other nectar sources, sunshine and shelter for them here.

In their larval stage, the Monarch butterfly feeds only on plants in the milkweed family (Asclepiadaceae). Common milkweed bears pink to lavender flower clusters from June through August; in late summer, it develops warty seedpods-the most striking of the milkweed pods. You may be lucky enough to see these horn-shaped pods near the tops of the plants at that time of year.

Adult butterflies searching for nectar are most attracted to orange, purple, yellow or red blossoms that are flat-topped or clustered and have short flower tubes. These tubes allow the butterfly to reach the nectar with its snout (proboscis). Favourite flowers are mainly in the Asteracease (sunflower and daisy) family of plants.

The nearby trees and shrubs act as a wind barrier that protects butterflies while they’re laying their eggs or feeding on nectar.

Monarch Butterfly as a worm

A Species of Concern

Scientific: Danaus plexippus L.
French: Monarque
Nipissing Ojibway: za weh mahn mahn gwa ns
Status: Special Concern
Description: ws 8.6-12.5 cm (3 3/8 - 4 7/8 in)
Males: Bright cinnamon orange color, black scent patch in the middle of hind wing where black vein-like scales meet
Females: Dull orange/brown. Wings are more thickly scaled with black veins.
Eggs: Laid singly on the underside of common milkweed leaves, up to 400 eggs laid by one female. Eggs hatch 3-12 days depending on temperature.
Larva: 5cm, vivid yellow, white and black striped caterpillars, shed skin up to 4 times.
Pupa: Chrysalis shiny jade green vase with a band of golden speckles.
Habitat: Open areas with herbaceous and woody plants. Larval food plant: Common milkweed.
Life History: 4,000 km migration to Mexico. Migration is completed in segments by different generations. Monarchs fly strongly and sail with their wings in a shallow V.
Similar Species: Viceroy (Limenitis archippus) - black post median band on hindwing, single set of white dots against the black wing border. Monarchs have two rows of dots. Viceroy larvae usually feed on willows and poplars.
Ecological Role: Pollination, food source for birds that tolerate plant toxins stored in body.
Threats 
Ontario: Destruction of common milkweed, land clearing and weed control.
Mexico: Frost, destruction of trees and plants. Conversion of native grasslands to farms in North America has reduced habitat, while clearing hardwood forests in eastern Canada and the USA has increased their habitat for the eastern population.
What you can do: Grow common milkweed and other native flowering plants in your yard. Help protect migration stopover sites like this one.
Monarch butterfly on flower worm

Species at Risk in Nipissing (as of 2012)

What about the air we breathe? Leaves filter the air by removing dust and other air pollutants such as ozone, carbon monoxide and sulfur dioxide. Trees also help us adapt to climate change impacts by taking in carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen, helping to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Trees provide a windbreak to protect people, pets and buildings; the more compact the leaves or group of trees, the greater the benefits of the windbreak.

Economically, trees play an important role in energy cost savings and increasing property value. Summer air conditioning and winter heating costs are lower in a tree-shaded home. When these individual savings are added up for a community, they reduce the community’s need for expensive non-renewable forms of energy, like oil and gas. Trees increase in value from the time they are planted until they mature and add to the value of a home much like having an updated kitchen or bath.

Research shows that trees play a role in health and wellness. In a series of studies, scientists found that when people spend time in more natural surroundings — forests, parks and other places with plenty of trees — their immune system is boosted. Scientists chalk it up to phytoncides, airborne chemicals that plants emit to protect them from rotting and insects and which also seem to benefit human health.

A plant