Recent Articles

Number of Monarchs Overwintering in California Remains Low

February 7, 2017By
Number of Monarchs Overwintering in California Remains Low

A survey of monarch butterflies overwintering in California shows that the population has not rebounded. Although the total number of monarchs counted this year was greater than last, the difference is due to a large increase in volunteer effort. Counts at major sites were down when compared to recent years.

Volunteers with the Xerces Society’s Western Monarch Thanksgiving Count visited 253 sites and tallied a total of 298,464 monarchs—a fraction of the 1.2 million monarchs recorded in the late 1990s.

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A new hope to save Monarch butterflies

January 21, 2017By
A new hope to save Monarch butterflies

We know monarch numbers have declined drastically in recent years. Estimates are down by 80 to 90% from a population size of about one billion in the early 1990s.

It’s long been thought that the big reason behind this is the loss of milkweed throughout the farming regions of the U.S. Midwest.

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The Start of a New Down: A common weed takes on an unusual purpose

January 3, 2017By
The Start of a New Down: A common weed takes on an unusual purpose

Milkweed isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when considering insulation materials. But the Canadian Coast Guard has other ideas and is testing the pods as a potential environmentally friendly insulation.

The Coast Guard works in partnership with Encore3, a manufacturing company in Québec, to prototype parkas, gloves and mittens made with milkweed insulation.

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“Restoration Economy” Strives to Protect Pollinators, Create Jobs

November 21, 2016By
“Restoration Economy” Strives to Protect Pollinators, Create Jobs

Gary Nabhan and I are bumping along in a rental car down a two-track dirt road that follows the edge of Sonoita Creek’s floodplain, some 29 kilometers north of the Arizona–Mexico border.

Nabhan—an ethnobiologist, conservation biologist and agroecologist at the University of Arizona and author of more than 30 books on food, farming and nature—tells me how extraordinary this borderlands region is for pollinators: native bees, butterflies, hummingbirds, even nectar-feeding bats. And now he is giving me a tour to illustrate his point.

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This changes everything: Herbicide use is increasing with GMO adoption not decreasing!

October 31, 2016By
This changes everything: Herbicide use is increasing with GMO adoption not decreasing!

“This changes everything”–the line that Donald Trump stole from Naomi Klein (who referred to climate change, not emails) can only be authentically used in relation to one amazing news story this week: The front page Sunday NY Times article by Danny Hakim “Doubts About a Promised Bounty: Genetically Modified Crops Have Failed to Lift Yields and Ease Pesticide Use.”

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Food Chain Restoration for Pollinators: Regional Habitat Recovery Strategies Involving Protected Areas of the Southwest

October 20, 2016By
Food Chain Restoration for Pollinators: Regional Habitat Recovery Strategies Involving Protected Areas of the Southwest

The steep declines over the last quarter century of wild pollinators in the Southwest among native bees, monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus L.), hummingbirds, and nectar-feeding bats have come during a time of accelerated climate change, and are likely due to a variety of stresses interacting with climatic shifts.

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Turning Iowa farmland into butterfly, bee habitat

August 3, 2016By
Turning Iowa farmland into butterfly, bee habitat

Depleted monarch butterflies and honeybees could get a boost from Iowa farmers over the next few years, thanks in part to lower commodity prices that have prompted landowners to shift more than 100,000 acres of row crops into habitat for creatures vital to pollination.

Over the past four years, Iowa farmers have enrolled 127,005 acres in a federal conservation reserve program designed to sustain butterflies, bees, wasps, birds and bats — with all but 15,000 acres being added in the past year, according to the Iowa Farm Service Agency.

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Wildflowers planted to aid bees may be crippling them

July 31, 2016By
Wildflowers planted to aid bees may be crippling them

Swaths of Midwestern wildflowers planted by well-meaning governments and nonprofits to attract bees may be inadvertently harming them. That’s the surprising finding of a new scientific study that concludes a bee-killing pesticide carried by wind or water from nearby farms is landing on the wildflowers, putting pollinators at risk.

Scientists spent two years examining wildflower plots planted around Brookings. Testing for the presence of clothianidin, a neonicotinoid insecticide commonly used in corn growing, they consistently found the insecticide on the wildflowers — even in those planted on organic farms where no pesticides are used.

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