Living In California


Squirrel Eating a Monarch
Photo:  Connie Masotti

The Monarch Grove Sanctuary in Pacific Grove, California is a gathering site where Monarch Butterflies congregate to spend the winter.  The Monarchs are protected from harassment by humans.  Congregating is a defense against predation by birds who find the monarchs distasteful due to toxic cardenolides that are concentrated in the wings.  Volunteer docents explain the natural history to visitors and help with census of the monarch population.

One of the docents, Connie Masotti, found dying Monarchs that were missing their abdomens.  Search for the cause, she noted a fox squirrel (an invasive species in this area of California) was capturing Monarchs, eating the abdomens and discarding the rest.  Presumably, the abdomens are less well defended than the wings.  Connie has posted photo documentation of the squirrel on her weblog, CapturedByConnie that features her exquisite nature photos.

In addition to eating the monarchs, the squirrel disturbs resting adults causing them to take flight and use extra essential energy.  Efforts to trap and relocate the squirrel are needed to protect the overwintering monarchs.  This is one more example of invasive species having detrimental affects on native species.

About jjneal

Jonathan Neal is a retired Associate Professor of Entomology at Purdue University and author of the textbook, Living With Insects (2010). This blog is a forum to communicate about the intersection of insects with people and policy. This is a personal blog. The opinions and materials posted here are those of the author and are in no way connected with those of my employer.
This entry was posted in by jjneal, Environment, Invasive Species. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Living In California

  1. Pingback: Living In California – Entomo Planet

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