Marie McAden



Monarch butterflies make annual trek through the Lowcountry

Posted 10/25/2011 11:42:00 AM

Be on the lookout. Monarch butterflies are making their annual mad dash across North America to Mexico and the Caribbean islands, stopping along the Lowcountry beaches to juice up on nectar.

If you’re visiting the coast this fall, don’t be alarmed if you see hundreds of the spectacular orange and black insects descend on some unsuspecting autumn-flowering plant. These guys are into communal roosting, which makes for a great show for nature lovers who happen to catch the act.

Monarchs have a wingspan the size of a baseball and cruise along flapping only when necessary, conserving energy for the long flight south. Late October to early November is the peak of the migration.

Although they tend to gather on the southwest of the islands, they also have been known to travel through the Midlands and Upstate. This time of year, their preferred roosting sites are groundsel trees that are blooming and loaded with lip-smacking nectar.

Just a few days ago, a hundred were spotted on the dunes at Sullivan’s Island. An observer also reported seeing a colony in Charleston.

You can follow their progress or report any you see at the Journey North website, an Internet tracker of monarch butterfly migrations. Click here to check it out.