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.

Related Articles


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 November 25, 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 November 25, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

From Popcorn To Vending Snacks: FDA Ups Calorie Count Rules

From Popcorn To Vending Snacks: FDA Ups Calorie Count Rules

Newsy (Nov. 25, 2014) The US FDA is announcing new calorie rules on Tuesday that will require everywhere from theaters to vending machines to include calorie counts. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Feast Your Eyes: Lamb Chop Sent Into Space from UK

Feast Your Eyes: Lamb Chop Sent Into Space from UK

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Nov. 25, 2014) Take a stab at this -- stunt video shows a lamb chop's journey from an east London restaurant over 30 kilometers into space. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Cambodian Capital's Only Working Elephant to Retire in Jungle

Cambodian Capital's Only Working Elephant to Retire in Jungle

AFP (Nov. 25, 2014) Phnom Penh's only working elephant was blessed by a crowd of chanting Buddhist monks Tuesday as she prepared for a life of comfortable jungle retirement after three decades of giving rides to tourists. Duration: 00:36 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Stray Dog Follows Adventure Racing Team for 6-Day Endurance Race

Stray Dog Follows Adventure Racing Team for 6-Day Endurance Race

Buzz60 (Nov. 24, 2014) A Swedish Adventure racing team travels to try and win a world title, but comes home with something way better: a stray dog that joined the team for much of the grueling 430-mile race. Jen Markham has the story. Video provided by Buzz60
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:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

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