By Melanie J. Knox, Page Editor
Students may recall the thousands of monarch butterflies that swoop through Abilene in late September or early October. They cover the mimosa trees in front of the Administration Building, and they like the pecan trees as well.
The monarch butterflies are on their way from Southern Canada and the Northern United States to Mishuacon, a state in Mexico.
They follow the same migration patterns every year and like the forests and high elevations in Mexico.
The monarchs are not harmful to humans or to the plants on campus, but they are only toxic for animals like birds, who try to eat them. This is because of the toxins the butterfly takes in from its diet of the milkweed plant.
Other butterflies do not make this migratory journey because no other butterflies are as long lived as the monarch. Only the monarch can survive to migrate.
Tom Lee, associate professor of biology, said that the students he has seen really enjoy the butterflies who visit campus.
“The students like them, of course, as the monarch is a very pretty, showy butterfly,” he said.
Lee doesn’t expect the numbers of butterflies to be as spectacular this year though because of a major storm in Mexico that killed large numbers of them.
The Abilene Zoo has a monarch garden where they have planted special plants and trees to attract the monarch butterflies when they come through, so students can go there to see them as well.
The monarch has a few mimics, like the queen butterfly and the viceroy butterfly, which are both seen around Abilene. There is a display outside Room 379 in the Foster building if students would like to learn more.