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Recent Triumphs for Science and “Silent Spring”

December 10, 2017By
Recent Triumphs for Science and “Silent Spring”

Two serious diseases (one in people and one in animals) transmitted by insects have been totally eliminated from specific locations. Such news would be noteworthy in any season. During this environmentally troubled holiday period especially it merits celebrating and sharing with friends, relatives and colleagues in the year ahead. Why?

Because the methods used in each case involved science-based strategies that minimized or removed reliance on toxic chemical pesticides.

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Butterfly Mortality and Salvage Logging

September 17, 2017By
Butterfly Mortality and Salvage Logging

A severe late spring storm in central Mexico in March 2016 that struck the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve was unique because it was accompanied by high-velocity winds that eliminated the normal thermal protection provided by the Oyamel fir forest.

Temperatures throughout the forest merged with the colder open-area ambient temperatures. The storm was in effect a rain and snow storm sandwiched within a powerful and sustained wind storm, followed by lethal freezing that killed 31–38% of the butterflies in the Sierra Chincua and Cerro Pelón overwintering colonies. Several lines of evidence point to greater than 40% mortality of monarchs in the Rosario colony.

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A Late Summer Place for Wonder: The Carson House Pollinator Garden

September 3, 2017By
A Late Summer Place for Wonder: The Carson House Pollinator Garden

Early in 1958 after living for 6 months in her new house on Berwick Road Rachel Carson started the four year long writing project that would become her renowned Silent Spring.

Rachel’s observations of the nature she loved from the wide windows of her home provided joyful relief from the gathering of somber subject matter for her new book and served to remind her of a compelling reason for accepting this challenge –the urgent need to protect life on the planet from toxic chemical pesticide threats.

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Can the Monarch Highway Help Save a Butterfly Under Siege?

July 12, 2017By
Can the Monarch Highway Help Save a Butterfly Under Siege?

The population of North American monarch butterflies has plummeted from 1 billion to 33 million in just two decades. Now, a project is underway to revive the monarch by making an interstate highway the backbone of efforts to restore its dwindling habitat.

Interstate 35 lies at the heart of a vast circulatory system, one of the massive transportation arteries that enable Americans to move long distances quickly.

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Restoring monarch butterfly habitat in the Midwestern US: ‘all hands on deck’

July 5, 2017By
Restoring monarch butterfly habitat in the Midwestern US: ‘all hands on deck’

The eastern migratory population of monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus) has declined by 80% within the last two decades. One possible cause of this decline is the loss of 1.3 billion stems of milkweed (Asclepias spp.), which monarchs require for reproduction.

In an effort to restore monarchs to a population goal established by the US Fish and Wildlife Service and adopted by Mexico, Canada, and the US, we developed scenarios for amending the Midwestern US landscape with milkweed.

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Study Blames Roundup for Monarch Butterfly Deaths

May 18, 2017By
Study Blames Roundup for Monarch Butterfly Deaths

A group of Michigan State University researchers say there is a nexus between large-scale deaths of Monarch butterflies and the application of the widely applied herbicide glyphosate.

Their study looked at the application of glyphosate in counties in Illinois and Texas during different seasons in an effort to better understand its potential effect on the population of Monarch butterflies – which has been in sharp decline in recent years.

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Barbara Kingsolver Cheers on Young Farmers

May 17, 2017By
Barbara Kingsolver Cheers on Young Farmers

Let me speak to you as a familiar, because of all the years I’ve cherished members of your tribe. Of course, I also know you’re only yourself, just as I remember the uniqueness of every intern, WWOOFer, and summer weed-puller who has spent a season or two on our family’s farm. Some preferred to work without shoes.

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How much milkweed to save monarch?

May 11, 2017By
How much milkweed to save monarch?

All over Minnesota and beyond, citizens and clubs and the occasional municipality are planting milkweed in hopes of helping the monarch butterfly reverse its ongoing population crash.

Still, the losses continue. This gorgeous, iconic creature’s numbers have declined by probably 80 percent in the last decade, and it may face 50-50 odds of disappearing from the Midwestern landscape in the next two.

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