Acadia Senior College


The Amazing Monarch Butterfly - Talk and Slide Show

May 26, 2023

11:30 a.m.

Birch Bay Village Inn, and by Zoom

Click to register for this event

NOTE: The in-person lunch and lecture at Birch Bay Village is now FULL. However, you may still register for the Zoom presentation which begins at noon. When you register you may also choose to join the waiting list for the in-person lunch.

Bonnie Chase and Bill Calvert will share their knowledge and adventures of the Monarch butterfly, exploring the amazing life cycle and one of the world’s most  incredible long-distance migration journeys.

Bonnie will speak about the basic biology of monarch development from egg to adult. This involves two stages of metamorphosis – something we humans do not experience, where the larval stage completely reorganizes itself to form an entirely new creature that does not resemble its former self.

Bill will speak about the monarchs’ migration, his discovery of the locations of the overwintering colonies in Mexico in 1976 and some of the environmental issues they are facing and their current status.

It is truly a natural wonder how employing a brain the size of a pinhead, monarchs get themselves from latitude 45/ 50 to latitude 20, a journey of up to 3000 miles to find thirteen small areas in the Transvolcanic Belt of Mexico when they have never been there!

The luncheon, at Birch Bay Village in Hulls Cove, begins at 11:30 and costs $15, payable by cash or check at the door; the lecture is from noon to 1:00.

The Zoom presentation begins at noon. If you register for the online talk you will receive the link the day before. There is no charge for the Zoom presentation.

Bonnie Chase holds undergraduate degrees in Biology and Botany and a MS in Environmental Science from Montclair State University, NJ. Throughout her careers in teaching biology, as Executive Director of the Cora Hartshorn Arboretum and Nature Center, as a Master Naturalist, leading Natural History tours in Central and South America, and writing a weekly local nature column, she has always focused on immersing her students in the awe and beauty of the natural world.

Bonnie was also a recipient of the prestigious Abernathy Hull Award for outstanding environmental education achievements and educator in the US. She is currently teaching the ASC course Connecting Nature and Art, and previously taught the ASC course A Sense of Place: Printing and Dying with Spring Botanicals.

Way back Bill Calvert took a degree in philosophy from the University of Texas at Austin. After this he did a stint in the US Army, and was assigned to the fighting 596 Light Truck Company. While with the 596, he had ample time to think things over, in particular the worth, or lack thereof an undergraduate degree in philosophy. He decided to do something practical. So he took up the study of butterflies – butterfly feet in particular – and how female butterflies find their host plants while earning a PhD in Zoology. These studies morphed into bark beetles in Mississippi, tent caterpillars in Massachusetts, and finally in collaboration with the renowned monarch expert Lincoln Brower, monarchs at Amherst College, the University of Florida, and in Mexico.

In Mexico, he led expeditions resulting in the discovery of the 13 overwintering colonies of monarchs. When the NSF funds dried up – they always do – Bill established the Texas Monarch Watch, the purpose of which was to use volunteer observers to learn about the monarch migration through Texas. The Texas Monarch Watch also hoped to instill in those who came in contact with this beautiful creature an appreciation of science and, especially, of nature. Each migratory season he followed the migration in Texas and Mexico to accumulate information as to how the monarchs, employing a brain the size of a pinhead get themselves from latitude 45/ 50 to latitude 20 and find those thirteen small areas in the Transvolcanic Belt of Mexico. In January 2009 he was featured in the Nova special on the monarch butterflies.

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The Amazing Monarch Butterfly - Talk and Slide Show