Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Monarch butterflies numbers down again

Date:
March 13, 2013
Source:
Texas A&M University
Summary:
Bad news again for the Monarch butterfly: Drought conditions and historic wildfires the past few years continue to decrease their numbers as they wing across Texas this spring. Worse news: milkweed plants – the only kind they need to survive – are also not in plentiful supply.

Monarch butterfly on Swamp milkweed wildflower.
Credit: Mark Herreid / Fotolia

Bad news again for the Monarch butterfly: Drought conditions and historic wildfires the past few years continue to decrease their numbers as they wing across Texas this spring. Worse news: milkweed plants -- the only kind they need to survive -- are also not in plentiful supply, says a Texas A&M University Monarch watcher.

Craig Wilson, a senior research associate in the Center for Mathematics and Science Education and a longtime butterfly enthusiast, says reports coming from Mexico where the Monarchs have their breeding grounds show their numbers are significantly down, a disturbing trend during much of the past decade.

"The severe drought in Texas and much of the Southwest continues to wreak havoc with the number of Monarchs," Wilson explains.

"The conditions have been dry both here and in Mexico in recent years. It takes four generations of the insects to make it all of the way up to Canada, and because of lack of milkweed along the way, a lot of them just don't make it."

The dry conditions and changing farming practices are hampering the growth of milkweed, the only type of plant the Monarch will digest as it makes its trip north. Texas has had dozens of wildfires in the past few years that have hampered milkweed growth, and even though there are more than 30 types of milkweed (Asclepiadaceae) in the state, the numbers are not there to sustain the Monarchs as they start their 2,000-mile migration trip to Canada. Increased use of pesticides is also adversely affecting milkweed production, he notes.

"But if people want to help, they can pick up some milkweed plants right now at local farmer's cooperative stores," he says, "and this would no doubt be a big boost to help in their migration journey."

The Monarch reserves are in the Mexican state of Michoacan. It's an area where tens of millions of Monarchs spend the winter and mate before heading north, Wilson points out.

"On a recent visit to the Monarch overwintering sites in Michoacan, former President Jimmy Carter said: 'The Monarch butterfly unites the three countries of North America in peace.

It is an ambassador of peace which requires protected areas and ecosystems that are preserved through sustainable agricultural and forestry practices. We need to work together to maintain a healthy and balanced ecosystem for all North America," Wilson adds.

"It is important to have a national priority of planting milkweed to assure there will be Monarchs in the future," Wilson believes. "If we could get several states to collaborate, we might be able to provide a 'feeding' corridor right up to Canada for the Monarchs."

Wilson is currently adding a variety of milkweed plants to the existing Cynthia Woods Mitchell Garden on the Texas A&M campus. He recommends the following sites for Monarch followers: Journey North, Texas Monarch Watch and Monarch Watch.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Texas A&M University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Texas A&M University. "Monarch butterflies numbers down again." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 March 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/03/130313142434.htm>.
Texas A&M University. (2013, March 13). Monarch butterflies numbers down again. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/03/130313142434.htm
Texas A&M University. "Monarch butterflies numbers down again." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/03/130313142434.htm (accessed September 20, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Chocolate Museum Opens in Brussels

Chocolate Museum Opens in Brussels

AFP (Sep. 19, 2014) Considered a "national heritage" in Belgium, chocolate now has a new museum in Brussels. In a former chocolate factory, visitors to the permanent exhibition spaces, workshops and tastings can discover derivatives of the cocoa bean. Duration: 01:00 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Newsy (Sep. 19, 2014) The study found elderly people are much more likely to become susceptible to infection than younger adults going though a similar situation. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Jury Delivers Verdict in Salmonella Trial

Jury Delivers Verdict in Salmonella Trial

AP (Sep. 19, 2014) A federal jury has convicted three people in connection with an outbreak of salmonella poisoning five years ago that sickened hundreds of people and was linked to a number of deaths. (Sept. 19) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Elephant Undergoes Surgery in Tbilisi Zoo

Raw: Elephant Undergoes Surgery in Tbilisi Zoo

AP (Sep. 18, 2014) Grand the elephant has successfully undergone surgery to remove a portion of infected tusk at Tbilisi Zoo in Georgia. British veterinary surgeons used an electric drill to extract the infected piece. (Sept. 18) 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