A recent news release from the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) caught our attention: A unique group of monarch butterflies lives year-round in South Carolina rather than migrating to Mexico each fall. These monarchs live in swamps in spring, summer, and fall, and sea islands in the winter. They rely heavily on aquatic milkweed (Asclepias perennis) as a host plant for their eggs and caterpillars, but they were also found to use swallow-wort (Pattalias palustre) – a viney relative of milkweed that grows near salt marshes and was previously unrecognized as an important host plant for monarchs.
The SCDNR’s report was based on a peer-reviewed paper published in Scientific Reports, available at Nature.com. The paper was authored by Dr. Michael Kendrick and the SCDNR’s own John “Billy” McCord, who has had a long-time fascination with monarchs. He first began capturing and marking monarch butterflies along the coast in 1996, which is when he began to take note of an intriguing pattern. “I noticed butterflies at Folly Beach, South Carolina, in November and December when I thought they should be overwintering in Mexico,” he says.
The full story is fascinating. Learn more HERE.
Photo Credit: SCDNR