Recent Articles

Dear Obama, Trudeau and Peña Nieto: Act Now to Save the Monarch Butterfly

June 17, 2016By
Dear Obama, Trudeau and Peña Nieto: Act Now to Save the Monarch Butterfly

More than 200 scientists, writers and artists have signed a letter addressed to Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, U.S. President Barack Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, in advance of the North American Leaders’ Summit in Ottawa later this month.

The signers urge that swift and energetic actions be taken to save the monarch butterfly from the threats that endanger its survival. All three countries must work together to mitigate the loss of the butterflies’ breeding habitat and to terminate all logging and mining in the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve in Michoacan, Mexico.

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Tiny pollinators play a huge role in our daily lives

June 12, 2016By
Tiny pollinators play a huge role in our daily lives

Though small, pollinators play a big role in our lives. They make our world more beautiful — most flowering plant species rely on pollinators to reproduce. Pollinators also are responsible for keeping us fed. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations reports more than 75 percent of the world’s food crops rely on pollination by insects and other animals.

Without pollinators, there would be no coffee, chocolate, tomatoes or apples. There also would be no milk, cheese or ice cream — dairy cows eat alfalfa, which is pollinated by leafcutter and honey bees. Even spring break would take a hit.

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Linking the continental migratory cycle of the monarch butterfly to understand its population decline

April 13, 2016By
Linking the continental migratory cycle of the monarch butterfly to understand its population decline

Threats to several of the world’s great animal migrations necessitate a research agenda focused on identifying drivers of their population dynamics. The monarch butterfly is an iconic species whose continental migratory population in eastern North America has been declining precipitously.

Recent analyses have linked the monarch decline to reduced abundance of milkweed host plants in the USA caused by increased use of genetically modified herbicide-resistant crops.

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Mexico’s monarch butterflies die in unusual cold storm, while US conservation effort also imperiled

March 11, 2016By
Mexico’s monarch butterflies die in unusual cold storm, while US conservation effort also imperiled

Mexico’s monarch butterflies are suffering from an usual cold weather system that began two days ago with severe rain, wind, and cold temperatures battering butterflies to the ground.

As snow falls in the Monarch Biosphere, conservation of the other end of the monarchs’ life is criticized as inadequate. U.S. conservation groups today issued a suit against the government for failing to protect the monarchs under the Endangered Species Act.

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Report: More Pollinator Species In Jeopardy, Threatening World Food Supply

February 29, 2016By
Report: More Pollinator Species In Jeopardy, Threatening World Food Supply

A major global assessment of pollinators is raising concerns about the future of the planet’s food supply.

A U.N.-sponsored report drawing on about 3,000 scientific papers concludes that about 40 percent of invertebrate pollinator species (such as bees and butterflies) are facing extinction. Vertebrate pollinators (such as bats and birds) are somewhat better off by comparison — 16 percent are threatened with extinction, “with a trend towards more extinctions,” the researchers say.

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Mexico documents big rebound in monarch butterflies

February 26, 2016By
Mexico documents big rebound in monarch butterflies

Monarch butterflies have made a big comeback in their wintering grounds in Mexico, after suffering serious declines, experts said Friday.

The area covered by the orange-and-black insects in the mountains west of Mexico City this season was more than three and a half times greater than last winter. The butterflies clump so densely in the pine and fir forests they are counted by the area they cover rather than by individual insects.

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You Could Get Paid to Save Struggling Monarchs

February 17, 2016By
You Could Get Paid to Save Struggling Monarchs

Once the passenger pigeon was the most abundant bird in North America, numbering in the hundreds of millions, if not billions. It would take several hours for flocks to pass a single spot, their wing beats so loud it was hard to carry on a conversation.

But by the late 1890s, they were gone from the wild and less than 20 years later, totally extinct. Could monarch butterflies see the same fate?

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Threats and opportunities on a key monarch anniversary

January 29, 2016By
Threats and opportunities on a key monarch anniversary

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.

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