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First time observed: monarch butterflies lay eggs in spring in Las VegasPosted 6/13/2018For the first time ever recorded in spring in Las Vegas, Western monarch butterflies were seen laying eggs on milkweed plants. Photo by Anne Marie Lardeau, Cooperative Extension.
Cooperative Extension Master Gardener milkweed study result gives hope for dwindling butterfly numbers
A Master Gardener’s five-year quest to increase pollinators by planting and conducting research with 30 varieties of milkweed in the Las Vegas area is showing some real results. This spring brought the first ever recorded spring sighting of Western monarch butterflies laying eggs in Las Vegas. The eggs have since hatched, and 12 new butterflies were tagged and released Monday.
Master Gardeners placed the butterfly eggs into a mesh butterfly habitat box, where the butterflies matured before being tagged and released. Photo by Master Gardener Student Kacy Curry.
“There has never been a documented instance of reproduction in Las Vegas as part of the spring migration,” said Anne Marie Lardeau, a Master Gardener volunteer with University of Nevada Cooperative Extension, who is conducting the research. “We get them in the fall, but have never observed nor received reports of caterpillars in the spring before. Usually they ignore us, either just stopping to eat or simply flying over.”
Lardeau’s work has focused on the Western monarch’s attraction to milkweed plants, and the scarcity of the plants in the Las Vegas area. She says the butterflies migrate north from Mexico and California in the spring and back home in the fall, leaving their eggs only on milkweed plants along the route both directions. However, the number of migratory butterflies is dwindling, milkweed is scarce, and the number of butterflies that stay in one place and have more diseases is growing.
Places to rest and nest
Lardeau began her studies in 2014 when Extension faculty and staff discovered a rush …