PUT-IN-BAY, OHIO This year’s Friends of Stone Lab Open House is taking a colorful twist with the addition of a new educational event. Visitors can learn all about monarchs first-hand from Stone Laboratory biologists at the Monarch Waystation, a butterfly garden built specifically for monarchs, on the grounds of the South Bass Island Light House from 11:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. September 12.
Scientists at the free event will show visitors live monarchs, discuss pollinator conservation and demonstrate how to tag butterflies to track migration and sample for parasites.
This time of year is an important one for monarch butterflies, said Stone Lab Research Assistant Nicole King.
“Most of the monarchs currently in northern and central Ohio will live up to nine months, undertaking the long journey to their overwintering grounds in the Oyamel forests located in the high mountains of Mexico,” King said. “Some of these butterflies will travel over 3,000 miles.”
The population of monarch butterflies has been declining over the last decade, primarily due to widespread habitat loss, King said. Monarch caterpillars will only feed on milkweed, a plant generally removed from backyards and farm fields, and the butterfly’s overwintering grounds are facing destruction due to illegal logging. Some estimates indicate the Monarch population has declined over 90% since the mid-to-late 1990s.
Stone Lab’s Monarch Waystation was created in 2011. The Lake Erie islands are a key path for monarchs as they migrate across the Great Lakes. The garden is an attractive location for monarchs to rest until they are ready to fly further south and also allows scientists and volunteers the chance to tag the butterflies to aid in research.
This event is part of the annual Friends of Stone Lab Open House, held September 12 on Gibraltar Island. FOSL is a non-profit group dedicated to donating time and money to assist with the planning and funding of the laboratory. For more information about FOSL, please visit stonelab.osu.edu/fosl.
Located on the 6.5-acre Gibraltar Island in Put-in-Bay harbor, Stone Laboratory is Ohio State’s island campus on Lake Erie and the research, education and outreach facility of the Ohio Sea Grant College Program. The Ohio State University’s Ohio Sea Grant Program is part of NOAA Sea Grant, a network of 33 Sea Grant programs dedicated to the protection and sustainable use of marine and Great Lakes resources. For information on Ohio Sea Grant and Stone Lab, visit ohioseagrant.osu.edu.