St. Marks Monarch Butterfly Festival

Every October, we take part in the St Marks Monarch Butterfly Festival. Here we provide information on monarch butterflies and their parasites, and also give a demonstration on how to test whether monarchs are infected with parasites. The St Marks Wildlife Refuge, where the festival is held, is a beautiful wildlife refuge, which monarchs use as a stopover on their migration from North America to Mexico every fall. Besides monarchs, the refuge is host to many birds, alligators, otters and bobcats.

 
     
 
 
  Caterpillar demo. Itai and Erica show caterpillars at the St Marks Monarch Butterfly Festival in 2013. Outreach team: Erica, Helen, Amanda, Camden, Andrew, Itai, Kevin and Michelle visited St Marks in October 2013.  
     
 

Monarch and pollinator garden

On 21 June 2014, lab members worked with Trees Atlanta and Carter Center staff and volunteers to create a pollinator and monarch garden at the Carter Center. In 2013, lab members Amanda Pierce and Michael Maudsley accompanied President and Mrs Carter to the monarch overwintering sites in Mexico, and President and Mrs Carter also visited our lab; pictures can be found here.

 
     
   
  Planting at the Carter Center. Jaap, Camden, Andrew, Michelle and Itai, along with honorary lab members Jakob and Ella, in front of the freshly planted pollinator garden.  
     
 

Other outreach activities

Members from our lab regularly visit butterfly festivals and nature events to talk about monarch butterflies and their parasites. For example, we have visited the Pismo Beach Monarch Grove, and also contribute to local nature rallies. We have also worked with high school teachers in our lab. In 2013, we set up a walk-in tent with live butterflies at the Butterfly Bash Family Events at the Fernbank Museum of Natural History. And in 2014, we took part in the first annual Atlanta Science Festival.

 
     
 
 
  Butterfly Bash: Camden in the butterfly tent, Jaap showing butterflies and Amanda dressing up like a monarch at the Fernbank Butterfly Bash Family Event, February 2013.