Insects of Ijams
Insects are among the most abundant animals on Earth and that is no different at Ijams Nature Center. Bees, ants, beetles, flies, true bugs, and much more can be found on nearly every square inch of the nature center. They fly, swim, and crawl in a variety of dizzying colors. Identifying them sometimes can be incredibly difficult, so take a moment to just look at and admire them. If you want to learn more, read below.
North American Monarch Butterfly
The monarch butterfly is reddish-orange with black vein-like markings. There is a black border around its wings with white spots on it. When its wings are open, this butterfly is about four inches wide. Monarchs are often confused with viceroy butterflies, which have a bold horizontal black streak on their hindwing. This line is absent in monarchs.
Males and females are similar in appearance, but the black veins are thicker on the female's wings. The male’s hind wings also have small pouches in which pheromones are stored.
Monarch butterflies occur in the Americas as well as in Hawaii, Australia, New Zealand, Spain, and the Pacific Islands. Many of these monarch populations do not migrate, including the southern monarch species found in South America. However, the monarchs of eastern North America are by far the most famous for their yearly migration to Central Mexico. Monarchs will cover thousands of miles to reach their wintering grounds, where they wait for their northern habitat to become warm again.
During spring through fall, monarchs and their caterpillars can be found in many of the open meadows around the nature center and the Ijams Quarries parking lot. Monarchs lay their eggs on several patches of milkweed near Universal Pond on the Visitor Center plaza. In the fall, these butterflies will migrate across any portion of Ijams grounds.
Monarch butterflies are important pollinator insects and help many native plants produce healthy seeds. Ijams has planted several plots of milkweed to encourage their breeding and help restore their numbers, which have been dropping in recent years. Ijams also participates in monarch tagging, during which harmless stickers are applied to migrating monarchs' wings to track them on their journey.
Species Seen at Ijams
The following Ijams iNaturalist page features several species found at Ijams. If you see one that's not on the list, please add it.