Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

As monarch butterflies journey north, gardeners can help protect species, researcher says

Date:
May 11, 2010
Source:
University of Kansas
Summary:
It has been a hard winter for Monarch butterflies. Low temperatures, storms and habitat destruction have all threatened the butterflies' overwintering population in Mexico.

Monarch butterfly.
Credit: iStockphoto

It has been a hard winter for Monarch butterflies, according to Chip Taylor, director of Monarch Watch at the University of Kansas. Taylor said that low temperatures, storms and habitat destruction have all threatened the butterflies' overwintering population in Mexico.

"I spend a lot of time fretting over the status of the monarch population and I'm always searching for factors or data that will help me understand the past as a way of predicting the future trends in monarch numbers," Taylor said.

As the butterflies migrate through Texas and continue northward across the Great Plains this spring, Taylor has poured over data from a network of monarch observers, hoping to gauge the well-being of the butterflies. But he said it is difficult to pin down their numbers with precision.

"This returning population has been most unique," Taylor said. "The data clearly shows that monarchs were limited to Texas this spring more than in any of the previous ten years. What does this mean? Was the dispersal of monarchs limited this spring because of the lower than average temperatures or because the population is low or some combination of both? The answer is probably the latter -- a combination of low numbers of returning monarchs and lower temperatures."

Nonetheless, Taylor said that data on the butterflies "is not all doom and gloom."

"The conditions for growth in the monarch population in Texas have been exceptionally favorable the last two months," Taylor said. "The temperatures have been moderate and due to adequate soil moisture, the milkweeds and nectar sources have been abundant. In addition, the fire ants have been scarce having not recovered from the prolonged drought of last year. So, small population or not, the monarchs should be off to a good start."

The Monarch Watch director said that the health of butterfly population would be determined by the number of first-generation monarchs that come north out of Texas over the next six weeks and weather conditions throughout the northern breeding range over the remainder of the summer. Depending on these factors, the number of monarchs could stay steady, decline or increase compared to last year.

But gardeners can help the butterflies by planting milkweed and other monarch-friendly plants, Taylor said.

"We need the public to pitch in to save the monarch migration," said Taylor. "Without an effort to protect monarch habitats and restore milkweeds, this incredible migration will slowly fade away."

Taylor encourages gardeners, homeowners, schools, governments and businesses to plant monarch "way stations" consisting of milkweeds and other butterfly plants, in hopes that the dedicated habitats will sustain a threatened population during its migration.

"The size of the overwintering population last year was 1.92 hectares and, with a modest increase this summer, the population might get back to this number," Taylor said. "If the conditions for the rest of the summer are highly favorable, a winter population of 4 hectares is possible -- but that doesn't seem likely at this point. In any case, the winter population of 2010 is certain to be below the long-term average of 7.44 hectares."

More information can be found on the Monarch Watch web site at: http://www.monarchwatch.org/


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Kansas. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Kansas. "As monarch butterflies journey north, gardeners can help protect species, researcher says." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 11 May 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/05/100510151354.htm>.
University of Kansas. (2010, May 11). As monarch butterflies journey north, gardeners can help protect species, researcher says. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 29, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/05/100510151354.htm
University of Kansas. "As monarch butterflies journey north, gardeners can help protect species, researcher says." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/05/100510151354.htm (accessed July 29, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Deadly Ebola Virus Threatens West Africa

Deadly Ebola Virus Threatens West Africa

AP (July 28, 2014) West African nations and international health organizations are working to contain the largest Ebola outbreak in history. It's one of the deadliest diseases known to man, but the CDC says it's unlikely to spread in the U.S. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating

Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating

AP (July 28, 2014) Classes are being offered nationwide to encourage African Americans to learn about cooking fresh foods based on traditional African cuisine. The program is trying to combat obesity, heart disease and other ailments often linked to diet. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Asteroid's Timing Was 'Colossal Bad Luck' For The Dinosaurs

Asteroid's Timing Was 'Colossal Bad Luck' For The Dinosaurs

Newsy (July 28, 2014) The asteroid that killed the dinosaurs struck at the worst time for them. A new study says that if it hit earlier or later, they might've survived. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge from Nest

Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge from Nest

AP (July 27, 2014) A live-streaming webcam catches loggerhead sea turtle hatchlings emerging from a nest in the Florida Keys. (July 27) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins