Forty years ago, amid a forest swirling with millions of monarchs, an aging scientist found a thumbnail-sized sticker placed by two Minnesota schoolboys and solved a decades-old mystery.
Dr. Fred Urquhart, a Canadian zoologist, had searched for the wintering grounds of the monarch since 1937. At the time, no one knew where the monarchs came from each spring. In pursuit of an answer, Urquhart and his wife, Norah, created thousands of monarch tags — tiny stickers that adhered to wings — and distributed them to butterfly enthusiasts throughout North America.
Two environmental groups filed a notice of intent to sue the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today over its failure to protect the monarch butterfly under the Endangered Species Act.
The Center for Biological Diversity and Center for Food Safety petitioned for the monarch’s protection in August 2014, following a more than 80 percent decline in the butterfly’s population over the past two decades. In December 2014 the agency issued an initial positive decision on the petition and launched an official review of the butterfly’s status.
They fly through the Louisville area each year on their way from Canada to Mexico — an iconic flutter of orange and black that has taught generations of Americans about the biology of life cycles and metamorphosis, but now may be at risk of vanishing.
Monarch butterfly populations have plummeted so much that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service now believes there might be reason to protect them under the Endangered Species Act.
The Desert Southwest harbors at least 41 of the 76 milkweed (Asclepias spp.) species known to exist in the lower 48 states. The species richness of milkweeds in this region is influenced by the tremendous diversity and range of vegetation types, soils, topography, climate, and the exposure of unusual rock types that occur over more than a 9,000 foot elevation range.
The nectar of milkweed flowers is attractive to dozens of insects including bees, wasps, butterflies, moths, and hummingbirds. The bees that milkweed flowers attract to agricultural landscapes are important for pollinating a wide variety of vegetable forage and fruit crops.
Kansas University’s Monarch Watch effort is getting more than half a million dollars to enable a butterfly version of the old “teach a man to fish” proverb.
The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation announced Monday that Monarch Watch would receive $527,154 for its “Building Tribal Capacity for Monarch Habitat Restoration” project. Roughly half the money is coming from the Wildlife Foundation and half from matching funds, including donations from Monsanto.
A national wildlife group awarded $3.3 million in grants Monday in its initial push to stem the worrisome decline of monarch butterflies, hoping the effort helps restore as much as 33,000 acres of habitat for the black-and-orange insect.
The 22 grants announced by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation will be matched by more than $6.7 million from the recipients, who are in more than a dozen states and among 115 applicants for funds in the conservation effort launched earlier this year.