Join the Valentine National Wildlife Refuge (VNWR) and the Sandhills Prairie Refuge Association on August 3rd, from 9-11:30 am, for a survey of milkweed and Monarch Butterflies (monarchs). This event is part of the International Monarch Monitoring Blitz, a continental effort to document milkweed and monarch distribution across North America. In the last 20 years, monarch migration populations have declined by more than 80% and the western monarch population specifically was less than 1% of historic populations this winter. The information collected from this annual blitz events helps scientists understand the current distribution and density of monarchs across North America and determine possible monarch conservation locations. The VNWR is 72,000 acres of sandhill prairie and wetland, with eight different species of milkweed spread across the refuge. Milkweed is the primary food source for every stage of the monarch life cycle and because it is plentiful at VNWR, monitoring monarchs here can be can provide beneficial information for the Blitz. We will meet at 9am at the VNWR Marsh Lakes Overlook, located 25 miles south of Valentine on the east side of Highway 83. From there, we will carpool to a few different locations on the refuge where we will record milkweed as well as the quantity of monarch eggs, larvae, pupae and adults. We will provide light snacks, but please bring a water bottle.
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