A Nova Scotia man is doing what he can to save the Monarch butterfly, including raising the insects in his home in the Annapolis Valley.
Larry Bogan is a retired Acadia University physicist and long time naturalist who committed himself to boosting the monarch population.
“They’re a marvellous phenomena,” he says. “They're fun to watch.”
Bogan has gone as far as to allow his fields to be taken over by milkweed. Normally it’s a nuisance weed hated by farmers, but loved by the Monarch butterfly.
“It helps the population of the Monarchs, which are very low now,” he says.
That population deficit is in part because there is too little milkweed in the United States and Canada. That, in turn, stymies a migration that takes several generations to complete from Mexico up through North America.
The Monarch is an at-risk species in Nova Scotia. Last year was a particularly bad year for them, but this year is looking a bit better. The numbers aren’t strong enough, so Brogan has gone one step further in his conservation work.
He and his wife comb the milkweed plants looking for minuscule eggs. When they find one, it’s brought indoors away from spiders and other predators so it can hatch.
“About a week or ten days later they emerge,” Bogan explains. “As an adult Monarch, we release them and tag many of them.”
The insects are tagged with tiny stickers in an effort to track them as they begin a remarkable journey in the coming weeks that will take them from Brooklyn Corner to Mexico. It’s a migration that amazes Bogan.
“It's hard to believe,” he says. “A little object that big can fly all that distance and survive and have enough energy.”
Bogan says it’s an amazing feat, but one that could be lost if not protected.