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Monarch Swarm at Owen Point

Monarch Swarm at Owen Point Sept 9 2010

While Presqu'ile is known as a area where migrating monarchs move south in good numbers it is rare to find roosting clusters of more than a couple of hundred butterflies. Sept 9 2010 was one of those rare days.

Strong NW winds seemed to move monarchs into the park but they were reluctant to head out over the water in those conditions. Instead they swirled around Owen Point all day and by 4pm had started to form a roost. About 15 to 20 clusters of butterflies settled on the big willows and poplars just back from the tip. Each cluster held 300 to 500 monarchs for a total roost size nearing 10,000. The number of butterflies was hard to appreciate when they were at roost. Most rested with their wings closed looking like a branch of dead leaves. It was only when a cluster broke, with the butterflies being seen against the sky (see picture) before settling again, that one could appreciate how many monarchs were in place.

Smaller clusters were noted in other areas of the park, including about 500 in 3 clusters at the Lighthouse. This grouping was quite low and was a favourite of photographers for those lucky enough to drop by before dark.

Look carefully at the photographs, these are not leaves with turning colour, but Monarchs. Next day the clusters slowly broke apart and the Monarchs dispersed and were gone by 9:30am.

Photographs and story by David Bree.