Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Americans would pay to help monarch butterflies

Date:
October 28, 2013
Source:
United States Geological Survey
Summary:
Americans place high value on butterfly royalty. A just-released study suggests they are willing to support monarch butterfly conservation at high levels, up to about $6.5 billion dollars if extrapolated to all US households. If even a small percentage of the population acted upon this reported willingness, the cumulative effort would likely translate into a large, untapped potential for conservation of the iconic butterfly.

Monarch Butterfly (danaus plexippus).
Credit: manuelteles / Fotolia

Americans place high value on butterfly royalty. A recent study suggests they are willing to support monarch butterfly conservation at high levels, up to about 6 billion dollars if extrapolated to all U.S. households.

Related Articles


If even a small percentage of the population acted upon this reported willingness, the cumulative effort would likely translate into a large, untapped potential for conservation of the iconic butterfly.

Monarch butterfly populations have been declining across Mexico, California and other areas of the United States since 1999. A 2012 survey at the wintering grounds of monarchs in Mexico showed the lowest colony size ever recorded.

"The multigenerational migration of the monarch butterfly is considered one of the world's most spectacular natural events," said Jay Diffendorfer, a USGS scientist and the study's lead author. "However, managing migratory species is difficult because they can cross international borders and depend on many geographic areas for survival."

Much of the decline in monarch numbers has been blamed on the loss of milkweed, the native plants on which monarch caterpillars feed.

"While many factors may be affecting monarch numbers, breeding, migrating, and overwintering habitat loss are probably the main culprits," said Karen Oberhauser, a monarch biologist at the University of Minnesota and a co-author of the study. "In the U.S., the growing use of genetically-modified, herbicide-tolerant crops, such as corn and soybeans, has resulted in severe milkweed declines and thus loss of breeding habitat."

The authors suggest that the universal popularity of monarchs could encourage a market for monarch-friendly plants.

"This is the first nation-wide, published, economic valuation survey of the general public for an insect. The study indicates that economic values of monarch butterflies are potentially large enough to mobilize people for conservation planting and funding habitat conservation," said John Loomis, the lead economist on the study from Colorado State University.

"The life cycle of monarchs creates opportunities for untapped market-based conservation approaches," Diffendorfer continued. "Ordinary households, conservation organizations, and natural resource agencies can all plant milkweed and flowering plants to offset ongoing losses in the species' breeding habitat."

According to the annual survey of the National Gardening Association, households that identify as "do-it-yourself lawn and gardeners" spent $29.1 billion in related retail sales in 2012.

"By reallocating some of those purchases to monarch-friendly plants, people would be able to contribute to the conservation of the species as well as maintain a flower garden," said Oberhauser. "Helping restore the monarch's natural habitat, and potentially the species' abundance, is something that people can do at home by planting milkweed and other nectar plants."

Unfortunately, many plants purchased by gardeners have been treated with systemic insecticides that can kill both pollinators that consume the nectar, and caterpillars, like monarchs, that eat the leaves.

"This study shows that not only might consumers pay more for monarch-friendly milkweeds grown without systemic insecticides in the potting soil, but also that consumers might be more interested overall in buying nectar-producing plants or milkweeds if they knew a small percentage of sales will be donated to habitat conservation," said Diffendorfer.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by United States Geological Survey. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Jay E. Diffendorfer, John B. Loomis, Leslie Ries, Karen Oberhauser, Laura Lopez-Hoffman, Darius Semmens, Brice Semmens, Bruce Butterfield, Ken Bagstad, Josh Goldstein, Ruscena Wiederholt, Brady Mattsson, Wayne E. Thogmartin. National valuation of monarch butterflies indicates an untapped potential for incentive-based conservation. Conservation Letters, 2013; DOI: 10.1111/conl.12065

Cite This Page:

United States Geological Survey. "Americans would pay to help monarch butterflies." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 28 October 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131028162959.htm>.
United States Geological Survey. (2013, October 28). Americans would pay to help monarch butterflies. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131028162959.htm
United States Geological Survey. "Americans would pay to help monarch butterflies." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131028162959.htm (accessed December 22, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Monday, December 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Christmas Kissing Good for Health

Christmas Kissing Good for Health

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 22, 2014) Scientists in Amsterdam say couples transfer tens of millions of microbes when they kiss, encouraging healthy exposure to bacteria. Suzannah Butcher reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Brain-Dwelling Tapeworm Reveals Genetic Secrets

Brain-Dwelling Tapeworm Reveals Genetic Secrets

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 22, 2014) Cambridge scientists have unravelled the genetic code of a rare tapeworm that lived inside a patient's brain for at least four year. Researchers hope it will present new opportunities to diagnose and treat this invasive parasite. Matthew Stock reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Earthworms Provide Cancer-Fighting Bacteria

Earthworms Provide Cancer-Fighting Bacteria

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 21, 2014) Polish scientists isolate bacteria from earthworm intestines which they say may be used in antibiotics and cancer treatments. Suzannah Butcher reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Existing Chemical Compounds Could Revive Failing Antibiotics, Says Danish Scientist

Existing Chemical Compounds Could Revive Failing Antibiotics, Says Danish Scientist

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 21, 2014) A team of scientists led by Danish chemist Jorn Christensen says they have isolated two chemical compounds within an existing antipsychotic medication that could be used to help a range of failing antibiotics work against killer bacterial infections, such as Tuberculosis. Jim Drury went to meet him. Video provided by Reuters
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