By now most are aware of the decline in Monarch Butterfly numbers and that Milkweed is necessary for their survival. So far in 2014, governments, environmental groups, and citizens have all been taking measures to ensure the survival of this beautiful butterfly. For the most part, this has been in the form of planting various types of milkweed and protecting existing patches.
On my many outings throughout the city this year I have been paying close attention to milkweed patches, checking for any signs of monarchs. Early June produced a single monarch fluttering over a meadow containing various wildflowers, milkweed included, in the west end of Greenway Park. I was optimistic for future sightings and hoped that this area would potentially be a breeding ground for the monarchs.
As weeks went by, I continually checked this area hoping to see more monarchs or evidence that they had been reproducing. Several insects, including bees and other butterfly species could be seen feeding on nectar and gathering pollen from the milkweed and various wildflowers, but unfortunately no more monarchs were seen, nor were any eggs or caterpillars. My optimism faded, but I continued to observe the area whenever I found myself walking there.
My faded optimism quickly turned into excitement this past week when another monarch sighting took place. I was photographing some of the various birds and wildlife in the area, which on this day included: Yellow Warblers, Red-winged Blackbirds, an Eastern Kingbird, and White-tailed Deer, when I caught a hint of back and orange flutter past. To my delight it was a Monarch Butterfly. I watched as it flew back and forth over the meadow eventually settling on a Milkweed flower. I quickly snapped several photos then watched as it flew off over the field. Satisfied with my sighting and photos my attention returned to the deer and bird species.
As I watched a doe grazing on the variety of plants, once again a monarch passed by. As I carried on a little further, another Milkweed plant revealed a Monarch Butterfly feeding on it’s nectar. Curious as to whether it was the same butterfly covering a lot of ground or multiple Monarch Butterflies in the area, I scanned the tops of the flowers. I quickly observed several Monarch Butterflies fluttering low over the meadow and clinging to the Milkweed and various wildflowers within it.
Having only seen one Monarch Butterfly in all of 2013, and not within the city, this was a welcome sighting. Whether or not it is a sign of their numbers rebounding, or just one small group in a dwindling population, only time will tell. Hopefully another generation of monarchs will get their start here in one of London’s beautiful parks. To access Greenway Park, turn onto Greenside Avenue from Springbank Drive and follow the road into the park. Be sure to make the quick right hand turn before the pollution control center. I recommend parking in the large lot directly across from the off leash dog area. From there the large patch of Milkweed is on the far side of the soccer pitch. Remember to keep a close eye and ear for all the great wildlife that call Greenway Park home.