To the editor:
Much to my surprise, we have seen newly emerged Monarchs on our house screens in mid October in Little Compton for the last several falls. In the fields surrounding our lawn, they were feeding on autumn asters. Our fields contain both marsh milkweed and common milkweed, the larval food source for Monarchs, so they must have pupated locally.
Puzzled by such a late emergence, I Googled Monarchs on the internet to discover that they go through four generations of life during the late spring and summer in New England, and it is only the last generation that migrates to Mexico for the winter. Whether or not global warming and seasonal shifts are altering our climate, it was clear that our October emerging Monarchs were the migrators.
We cut our wildflower fields once a year, after heavy frosts and dying-back and drying of annual growth, so they are easier to mow, usually in late November. Yet all around the town, similar fields and roadways are cut in September, and it is this practice that may be having a disastrous effect on the final migrating generation of local Monarchs.
Please, field owners, landscapers and Public Works take notice. Fields and roadways should not be mowed before mid-November in order to be sure we have allowed the fourth generation of local Monarchs to emerge, feed and migrate.