E-Edition | Shopper | Observer/Advocate

News and Sports from Windom, MN and surrounding areas | Windom, MN




weather sponsored by


Advanced Search
search sponsored by



Birth Announcement Submission

The Dish
Advertising
Legals
Help Wanted
Auctions
Area Churches
Area Sports Schedule
Windom Schools
Social Scene
Weather
Community Calendar
Cottonwood County Sheriff




home : columns : columns
June 18, 2018


6/6/2018 4:21:00 PM
Monarchs return, dragonflies hatch, bears roam

Ron Kuecker
Outdoors Columnist


It was the morning of June 1 this year when I saw my first monarch butterfly of 2018. And, not just one but two when I saw a second beauty later in the day.
Called by some the greatest natural living wonder of the world, it is amazing to see their return. The last you or I may have seen one was probably last September or October. Then they were probably in a flock, roosting in a grove of trees overnighIt was the morning of June 1 this year when I saw my first monarch butterfly of 2018. And, not just one but two when I saw a second beauty later in the day.
Called by some the greatest natural living wonder of the world, it is amazing to see their return. The last you or I may have seen one was probably last September or October. Then they were probably in a flock, roosting in a grove of trees overnight, waiting for a northerly breeze to help them move south.
They seem to like the maple family of trees to gather. The mostly unwanted boxelder tree is in the maple family and that is where I frequently see them, in a stand of those trees near our cabin in Pope County.
Well, they made the trip back and it was a long one. Some 3,000 miles to southwest Mexico is where they stayed until February or March. Then the same adults began heading north as the equatorial temperature rose.
But things changed as they reached northern Mexico and southern Texas. The now mated females stopped and laid some eggs, then died along with the males.
The eggs needed to be placed on one of several species of milkweeds. The big green larvae that developed required milkweed leaves to feed upon. Then it formed into a pupa. The pupa developed an adult inside, then burst into a beautiful butterfly. The total time of that life cycle was about 30 days.
Once again the adults headed north, guided by a system we don't understand and paused again somewhere in the Midwest to undergo yet another 30 day metamorphosis.
After arriving in Minnesota or Canada they usually go through two more life cycles and if weather permitting produce plentiful numbers. Also, if nectar producing plants are plentiful, they develop their largest wings and deposit fat in their abdomens (I understand that!).
Then they stage again, complete with large numbers roosting in our trees. They wait there for a north wind as the jet stream changes into a new flow south and the yearly cycle is complete.
Many say we need to plant more milkweeds and nectar producing plants in their summer range. That, for sure, is okay. It is my thought, however, that a greater need is for those plants to be nurtured along their corridor of flight each spring. That seems to me, along with nasty weather like this spring's late snowfalls, to be the biggest limiting factor.
Milkweeds
When it comes to milkweeds, most of us relate to the big ol' common milkweed. It grows big and fast. It also spreads rapidly in an untreated field by its recognizable fluffy seed produced by the thousands of pods.
I have watched the spread of what most farmers consider a pretty invasive and nutrient draining weed. In my opinion there is no such thing as one milkweed. In a few years there will be thousands and it is that reproductive proficiency that many fear can overwhelm unsprayed habitat.
Dragonfly hatch
While mowing lawn over Memorial Day weekend I noticed a sizeable hatch of dragonflies. They probably came from a wet buffer strip of vegetation I leave along a portion of our south lakeshore.
But that morning they were swarming along our north shore, out of the wind, gobbling up insects, hopefully any mosquitoes that were there.
There are some 50 species of dragonflies in Minnesota and I was unable to identify which one it was. Their flight is so fast, they go in any direction and seem to have good human avoidance vision.
There are skimmers and cruisers, spiketails or clubtails, darners or emeralds, so many it takes an expert or a book to ID. The only book I use is the Stokes book titled, "Beginners Guide to Dragonflies."
Each year about this time I dig it out and realize I forgot everything I learned last year.
Bears south of town
Was I surprised when someone whipped out their iPad a couple days ago and showed me the location of several confirmed bear sightings in southern Minnesota.
One was in Le Sueur County, near an apple orchard, where it was assumed a large male bear had been eating some of last years apples lying on the ground.
Another was near Amboy to our east. Then a motorist traveling Highway 71 near Bergen called in a bear sighting there. Right here in Jackson County. Reportedly a Minnesota highway patrolman and two deputies headed that way. They spotted the bear in a farm place and a cub nearby.
Shortly after, Mark Brodin came home one evening to his folks place, just south of Wilder, and saw a bear in the driveway.
All of these sightings are quite unusual for an animal that inhabits the northern one-third of Minnesota most commonly. And, naturally, everyone from expert to novice is trying to figure out why.
It could simply be that a growing population needs more room. Another thought is that an expanding population of wolves is scaring some of them away. Wolves will kill bear cubs.
One of my thoughts is that growing populations of any species always seek to expand their range. In their search for new mates or more food they wander and wonder.
A final thought I had and probably applies only to the mother and her single cub. Mature, male bears are known to kill cubs. The thought behind that is to prevent later competition from the growing cubs or to induce the mom into estrus.t, waiting for a northerly breeze to help them move south.
They seem to like the maple family of trees to gather. The mostly unwanted boxelder tree is in the maple family and that is where I frequently see them, in a stand of those trees near our cabin in Pope County.
Well, they made the trip back and it was a long one. Some 3,000 miles to southwest Mexico is where they stayed until February or March. Then the same adults began heading north as the equatorial temperature rose.
But things changed as they reached northern Mexico and southern Texas. The now mated females stopped and laid some eggs, then died along with the males.
The eggs needed to be placed on one of several species of milkweeds. The big green larvae that developed required milkweed leaves to feed upon. Then it formed into a pupa. The pupa developed an adult inside, then burst into a beautiful butterfly. The total time of that life cycle was about 30 days.
Once again the adults headed north, guided by a system we don't understand and paused again somewhere in the Midwest to undergo yet another 30 day metamorphosis.
After arriving in Minnesota or Canada they usually go through two more life cycles and if weather permitting produce plentiful numbers. Also, if nectar producing plants are plentiful, they develop their largest wings and deposit fat in their abdomens (I understand that!).
Then they stage again, complete with large numbers roosting in our trees. They wait there for a north wind as the jet stream changes into a new flow south and the yearly cycle is complete.
Many say we need to plant more milkweeds and nectar producing plants in their summer range. That, for sure, is okay. It is my thought, however, that a greater need is for those plants to be nurtured along their corridor of flight each spring. That seems to me, along with nasty weather like this spring's late snowfalls, to be the biggest limiting factor.
Milkweeds
When it comes to milkweeds, most of us relate to the big ol' common milkweed. It grows big and fast. It also spreads rapidly in an untreated field by its recognizable fluffy seed produced by the thousands of pods.
I have watched the spread of what most farmers consider a pretty invasive and nutrient draining weed. In my opinion there is no such thing as one milkweed. In a few years there will be thousands and it is that reproductive proficiency that many fear can overwhelm unsprayed habitat.
Dragonfly hatch
While mowing lawn over Memorial Day weekend I noticed a sizeable hatch of dragonflies. They probably came from a wet buffer strip of vegetation I leave along a portion of our south lakeshore.
But that morning they were swarming along our north shore, out of the wind, gobbling up insects, hopefully any mosquitoes that were there.
There are some 50 species of dragonflies in Minnesota and I was unable to identify which one it was. Their flight is so fast, they go in any direction and seem to have good human avoidance vision.
There are skimmers and cruisers, spiketails or clubtails, darners or emeralds, so many it takes an expert or a book to ID. The only book I use is the Stokes book titled, "Beginners Guide to Dragonflies."
Each year about this time I dig it out and realize I forgot everything I learned last year.
Bears south of town
Was I surprised when someone whipped out their iPad a couple days ago and showed me the location of several confirmed bear sightings in southern Minnesota.
One was in Le Sueur County, near an apple orchard, where it was assumed a large male bear had been eating some of last years apples lying on the ground.
Another was near Amboy to our east. Then a motorist traveling Highway 71 near Bergen called in a bear sighting there. Right here in Jackson County. Reportedly a Minnesota highway patrolman and two deputies headed that way. They spotted the bear in a farm place and a cub nearby.
Shortly after, Mark Brodin came home one evening to his folks place, just south of Wilder, and saw a bear in the driveway.
All of these sightings are quite unusual for an animal that inhabits the northern one-third of Minnesota most commonly. And, naturally, everyone from expert to novice is trying to figure out why.
It could simply be that a growing population needs more room. Another thought is that an expanding population of wolves is scaring some of them away. Wolves will kill bear cubs.
One of my thoughts is that growing populations of any species always seek to expand their range. In their search for new mates or more food they wander and wonder.
A final thought I had and probably applies only to the mother and her single cub. Mature, male bears are known to kill cubs. The thought behind that is to prevent later competition from the growing cubs or to induce the mom into estrus.
It's called infanticide and has been known in the bear kingdom for a long time. The momma bear with only one cub versus the usual two or three may indicate she could have had one or two of her cubs killed by a boar bear. With that experience she may have just taken off for new country.
And, that for sure, is what we are when it comes to bears.







ObituariesClassifiedsOpinionColumnsThe DishLegalsContact UsHelp WantedAuctionsLife
Birth, Engagement & Wedding Announcement Forms | Area Classified Ads | Current News | Life

 

Copyright © 2017 Citizen Publishing Co. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. 
P.O. Box 309, Windom, MN 56101 507-831-3455

 


Software © 1998-2018 1up! Software, All Rights Reserved