Recent Articles

A farewell to kings? New ideas on the vanishing monarch butterflies

April 30, 2017By
A farewell to kings? New ideas on the vanishing monarch butterflies

Everybody loves monarch butterflies. Author Anurag Agrawal refers to them as “the Bambi of the insect world.”

They are specifically bred to be released at weddings; their image has been pressed into service as the symbol of environmental organizations like the Union of Concerned Scientists and the Non-GMO project.

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Billions More Milkweeds Needed to Restore Monarchs

April 29, 2017By
Billions More Milkweeds Needed to Restore Monarchs

Monarchs rely on milkweeds for food and for breeding habitat, but over 860 million stems were lost in the northern United States over the last decade. Scientists with the USGS and partners examined the density of Eastern migratory monarch butterflies overwintering in Mexico from 1979-2002 and the amount of milkweed plants available to them in North America.

The study found that 3.62 billion milkweed stems are needed to reestablish this monarch population, but only 1.34 billion stems remain in the U.S.

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Poet: Build solar ‘wall’ in Mexico, sell power to customers in US

March 30, 2017By
Poet: Build solar ‘wall’ in Mexico, sell power to customers in US

Mexican poet Homero Aridjis wants to build a solar barrier between his country and the United States — and have the United States pay for it by selling electricity to customers in border cities.

Aridjis, an internationally known poet, novelist and environmental leader, said he has received overwhelming support for the Mexican-built barrier, first proposed by him and James Ramey in a December article on the Huffington Post website.

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Monarch butterflies head north as Mexican scientists try to move their forest

March 19, 2017By
Monarch butterflies head north as Mexican scientists try to move their forest

One of the hottest winters in history poses good news and bad news for migrating Monarch butterflies this season. The good news: warm weather and well-timed rains translate into a grand wildflower season with plenty of milkweed in South Texas.

The bad news: those same high temperatures in Mexico where the Monarchs overwinter mean that many butterflies have burned up much of their stored winter fats, creating a lack of fuel and extra stress for their journey north.

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Monarch butterflies are threatened in Ontario — but they’re not the only species at risk

March 18, 2017By
Monarch butterflies are threatened in Ontario — but they’re not the only species at risk

For more than a decade, Margaret McRae has raised monarch butterflies in her east-end Toronto home. Every two years she applies for permission from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, then scans the milkweed that grows plentifully in her gardens.

When she finds a leaf bearing an egg, she brings it inside to protect it from parasites. Within four days, she has a monarch caterpillar, covered in white, black, and yellow stripes.

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Iowa launches plan to save monarch butterflies

March 16, 2017By
Iowa launches plan to save monarch butterflies

Iowa is taking a big step to help the recovery of monarch butterflies. The Iowa Monarch Conservation Consortium on Feb. 27 released a statewide strategy to support monarch butterfly populations in Iowa and North America.

This insect is an important pollinator of plants and crops. The 135-page plan can help farmers, backyard gardeners and others with a road map for boosting monarch butterfly habitat.

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Monarch butterfly numbers drop by 27 percent in Mexico

February 9, 2017By
Monarch butterfly numbers drop by 27 percent in Mexico

The number of monarch butterflies wintering in Mexico dropped by 27 percent this year, reversing last year’s recovery from historically low numbers, according to a study by government and independent experts released Thursday.

The experts say the decline could be due to late winter storms last year that blew down more than 100 acres (40 hectares) of forests where migrating monarch butterflies spend the winter in central Mexico.

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Monarch butterflies still need your love

February 9, 2017By
Monarch butterflies still need your love

A couple of weeks ago, it was raining monarch butterflies. I was visiting a hilltop sanctuary near Mexico City where monarchs from Canada and the U.S. Midwest spend their winters.

The tiny critters cling to branches in clusters so dense they bend the bows of massive fir trees.

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