Recent Articles

Scientists play crucial role in saving America’s most iconic butterfly

June 25, 2014By
Scientists play crucial role in saving America’s most iconic butterfly

University of Arizona researchers are playing a leading role in an unprecedented effort to save America’s most iconic butterfly, the monarch.

Due to loss of habitat for milkweed – the sole food plant of the caterpillars – populations of this important pollinator have plummeted in recent years, leaving the monarch in dire straits.

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A Reply to the Monarch Recovery Initiative letter from the Honorable Tom Vilsack, Secretary of Agriculture

June 23, 2014By
A Reply to the Monarch Recovery Initiative letter from the Honorable Tom Vilsack,  Secretary of Agriculture

Thank you for your letter of April 14, 2014, cosigned by your colleagues, expressing your concern for the deciine of monarch bunerfiy popuiations and requesting the establislunent of a multi-agency monarch butterfly recovery initiative. I apologize for the delayed response.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is concerned about the decline in monarch butterfly populations and is actively working towards increasing monarch and other pollinator habitat.

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Presidential Memorandum — Creating a Federal Strategy to Promote the Health of Honey Bees and Other Pollinators

June 20, 2014By
Presidential Memorandum — Creating a Federal Strategy to Promote the Health of Honey Bees and Other Pollinators

Pollinators contribute substantially to the economy of the United States and are vital to keeping fruits, nuts, and vegetables in our diets. Honey bee pollination alone adds more than $15 billion in value to agricultural crops each year in the United States.

Over the past few decades, there has been a significant loss of pollinators, including honey bees, native bees, birds, bats, and butterflies, from the environment.

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How President Obama Can Walk the Talk for National Pollinator Week

How President Obama Can Walk the Talk for National Pollinator Week

It’s already the Friday of National Pollinator Week, and the White House has been peculiarly silent about the status of its big pollinator recovery initiative that several environmental and corporate websites predicted would be announced today.

While the Pollinator Partnership and Congressional Pollinator Protection Caucus will announce at an invitation-only Longworth Congressional Building…

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Harsh Winter Was Tough On Butterfly Population, Study Says

June 9, 2014By
Harsh Winter Was Tough On Butterfly Population, Study Says

It’s a welcome summer sight: butterflies fluttering from flower to flower. But we could be seeing less of them. A study released today points a finger at road salt.

According to the study, researchers from University of Minnesota found butterflies that were fed a high-sodium diet only had a 10 percent survival rate, compared to a 40 percent to 50 percent survival rate for butterflies that were fed low-to-medium sodium diets.

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Habitat loss on breeding grounds cause of monarch decline, study finds

June 7, 2014By
Habitat loss on breeding grounds cause of monarch decline, study finds

Habitat loss on breeding grounds in the United States — not on wintering grounds in Mexico — is the main cause of recent and projected population declines of migratory monarch butterflies in eastern North America, according to new research.

Milkweed is the only group of plants that monarch caterpillars feed upon before they develop into butterflies. Industrial farming contributed to a 21-per-cent decline in milkweed plants between 1995 and 2013, and much of this loss occurred in the central breeding region.

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Congress Wants to Save Honeybees by Banning Some Pesticides

June 6, 2014By
Congress Wants to Save Honeybees by Banning Some Pesticides

They’re small and operate behind the scenes, but they’re critical to agriculture — and Congress is starting to notice. Honeybees are responsible for pollinating everything from apple orchards to vegetable patches, contributing as much as $30 billion a year to U.S. agriculture. About a third of U.S. crop production relies on bees for pollination.

But these workhorses of agriculture are dying at unsustainable rates, triggering concerns in farming circles and beyond. Bees are considered an indicator species, and their decline signals broader systemic problems, environmental scientists say.

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Iconic monarch butterflies under threat from rising herbicide use

June 6, 2014By
Iconic monarch butterflies under threat from rising herbicide use

Monarch butterflies are known for their striking flame-orange and black appearance, and especially for their mass migration in their millions to spend winters in the mountain forests of Mexico. But despite growing problems with deforestation in Mexico, their struggle begins at home in the United States and Canada.

The butterflies that fly to Mexico are the great-great-great grandchildren of the monarchs that were in Mexico the previous winter. In 2013 the overwintering population in Mexico covered 0.67 hectares of fir forest (about 44 million butterflies) the lowest since counts began in 1994.

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