The MMMILC Project

Week 19: Data update!

It’s been a while since we’ve had a data update – in the meantime, I attended an ecology conference in Portland, Oregon, and saw several cool talks about phenology, milkweeds and monarchs. Seeing those talks always makes me more aware of how interesting and unique this dataset is – there really are very few datasets like it.

We haven’t seen plots of the data for a few weeks. Before you look below, try to imagine what you think those plots will look like. (Hint: they are the same kinds of plots we always have, but just with more data for the past few weeks.) Based on your intuition being out in the field, what patterns do you think the data will show?

<data below!>

It looks like the plants are continuing to grow pretty well:


The number of observed ALIVE milkweeds seems to be holding pretty steady around 213; it looks like the peak population size of emergent milkweeds might have been around week 13 or 14.


The peak of milkweed size seems to have been around week 17, at least so far. The pattern of monarch egg counts has been all over the place, but seems to have settled down to low numbers in the past 4 weeks at least; the pattern of larvae counts has been consistently low for several weeks. With relatively few caterpillars to count, the data on caterpillar size should be pretty variable, but actually seems to show a pattern of some kind. It looks like the caterpillars were largest around weeks 12 and 13, and have been bouncing around 10-20 mm in the last few weeks.

I wonder if we will start to see an increase in larval numbers and sizes towards the end of the season this year, as we have in past years. Or, since this winter was so much wetter than the past few years and it looks like the ditch is occasionally flowing with irrigation water, will the plants just keep growing strong until the end of the season, with no let up in their defenses?

A Good Day

Today, out in the field, we saw a number of large milkweeds. I also, for the first time, saw a monarch caterpillar in person and it was larger than expected. I also saw pods for the first time while monitoring and nearby some bugs were mating.

I managed to spot a butterfly among the leaves. Luckily I did see it because it was nearly crushed under my foot. Unfortunately, it was not a Monarch butterfly but it was fascinating regardless to see it up so close.


The caterpillar had just shed and you could see right behind it is the leftovers.

It was an amazing day.

Confusing Yet Interesting Day

Today, as the blogger once again, I didn’t see any caterpillars. I saw at least 3 pods that were opened but that was about it. But there could be some in other sections. Usually, there would and should be caterpillars out and about. There were more last year than this year. Is there something wrong this year?

A Beautiful Day

Story by -Nayely Rios

Today’s weather was sunny and windy, the perfect weather for me. As my group and I analyzed our first Milkweed plant we noticed a gopher hole the size of a baseball, the milkweed was not effected by the gopher hole. It was the first time I had seen a gopher hole in the area, it was a shame their was no gopher inside. We also had the opportunity to see an open pod full of milkweed seeds. Inside the pod their were three Small Milkweed Bugs just laying around. It was interesting how the Milkweed Bugs could interact easily. As we reached the end of our assignment I noticed two dead Monarch butterflies laying on a dead patch of grass, I was cu-rouse to know if they had reached the end of their life stage or if they had died from a unnatural reason. So far, today went fairly well and I am hoping to learn more as I adjust myself in the program.

WOW! Is that a monarch?

July 24, 2017

The weather is 88% in Davis. It’s a beautiful day, it’s not too hot nor too cold, the monarchs are flying, the honey bees are buzzin. But wait! Did I just saw a monarch?! Yes, I did. Most of the monarchs I see are in bigger milkweeds so are the OLAPS. They are growing bigger,stronger, and healthy.

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Easy Day

Today was an easy day with Sandy and Haley. Most of the Milkweed were not emerged and it was pretty shady. As you can see in the picture we had a nice view of the water. I saw a lot of orange dragon flies and tad pools in the water. It wasn’t so hot out especially where i was at. Walking back after we were done, there were a lot of lizards that scared us. Hopefully we’ll see more monarch butterflies flying around.

The monarch caterpillar

20170707_095018-1Today me and my group fond a first instar of the monarch caterpillar it was eating milkweed. We also saw a milkweed with 30 steams and 11 ponds and 15 umbles.  Then we found  a large milkweed bug on a leaf.

Interesting Day Outside

Today was a pretty hot day. Luckily, my group and I were in the shady area. Helping Edwin with the plants, I would spot a Praying Mantis in almost each milkweed.


Not only that we had also spotted two Crab Spiders in some of our earlier plants. A small one, about the size of my pinkie nail, and a big one, almost the size of my thumb nail.

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Something that had “wow-ed” our day was seeing a cicada. Edwin had caught it before it flew away. It was the first time I had seen a cicada before.


It was a very interesting day today.

Hot But A Nice Day


In a beautiful hot day I was walking with Jacky, and while we were walking together she saw a Caterpillar that was at stage 4. I was like “whoa that is a big one” and she said “lets take a picture” she got her phone out and took a picture of it so I did the same thing. We should be outside in the nature because there are lots a pretty things around us that we don’t even notice because they are to small. Walking around a taking pictures of little bugs and spotting them was kinda fun because there were many different colors. I didnt get to spot a lot of them but i was lucky enough to see this one. I hope to see more monarch butterflies flying around.

MMMILC Week: 15

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Today my job was to walk around the milkweeds and record any interesting things. On plant 340 I got to take a picture of a 2nd instar Caterpillar  it was 6.8 mm long. There was one of the plants that had 2 LAMB (large milkweed bug or Oncopeltus fasciatuis) mating on the top of a milkweed plant. Milkweed plant 361 had a medium sized praying mantis. On the plant 362 a monarch kept flapping its wings on the umbel of a milkweed plant.