February 27, 2008


 

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Researchers: Keep An Eye Out For Tagged Monarch Butterflies

By Monica Spain, KPLU 88.5

If you’re lucky enough to spot a lacy monarch butterfly as it heads south for winter, look closely. You might see something unusual on its wing.

In a town in northern California, a young girl noticed a white sticker with an email address on a butterfly’s wing when it landed on her garage door.

“She took note and emailed me, so it proved the system worked,” said Dr. David James, an entomologist at Washington State University.

James is a guy who is fascinated by bugs. He’s tracking western monarch butterflies. The sticker the girl saw on the butterfly had his email printed on it.

The monarch butterfly has been studied for decades east of the Rocky Mountains, but much less is known about western monarchs. Scott Black, executive director of the conservation group Xerces Society, says there has been a 90 percent decline of the monarch in North America, which is why tagging is important work.

Read more at KPLU.org


‘Canary in the cornfield': monarch butterfly may get threatened species status

By Morgan Erickson-Davis, mongabay.com

Monarch butterflies were once a common sight throughout the North American heartland. In Mexico, where they overwinter, single trees would often be covered in thousands. But declines in milkweed – their caterpillars’ only source of food – have led to a 90 percent decline in monarch numbers. Now, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) is reviewing a petition that would grant the iconic species protection through the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

The monarch (Danaus plexippus) is one of the world’s greatest insect migrators, flying 3,000 miles (4,800 kilometers) over four generations from breeding grounds as far north as Nova Scotia to forests in Mexico where they overwinter. However, fewer and fewer have been congregating in Mexico. Surveys conducted by scientists have tracked an overall steep decline over the past two decades.

Read more at MongaBay.com


Petition Seeks to Protect Monarchs

By Jim Lundstrom, Peninsula Pulse

A legal petition was filed on Aug. 26 with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that seeks Endangered Species Act protection for monarch butterflies. The petition says there has been a 90 percent decline in monarchs in the past two decades.

The petitioners say the decline is due to the “drastically reduced and degraded” monarch habitat, which has been caused by development, logging, climate change and, especially, pesticides.

The two-decade time frame is important because it relates to the introduction of genetically engineered crops that are resistant to the herbicide glyphosate (the active ingredient in Monsanto’s widely used weed killer Roundup). In 1996 Monsanto introduced “Roundup Ready” soybeans that were genetically engineered to resist Roundup. Two years later Monsanto introduced “Roundup Ready” corn. Today, 94 percent of soybeans and 89 percent of corn grown in the United States are “Roundup Ready” crops.

Read more at PPulse.com


Conservationists fight for monarch butterfly protections

By Brooks Hays, UPI

COLLEGE STATION, Texas,– Monarch butterflies have begun their 3,000-mile trek southward; with summer coming to a close in Canada, it’s time to make their way to Mexico for the winter. It sounds like a nice life, but it’s a life that’s increasingly under siege, scientists say. Now, some are arguing federal protections are warranted.
Studies show the monarch’s milkweed habitat continues to lose out to industrial agriculture — threatening the long-term health of the monarch species.

Now, both scientists and environmentalists are ramping the dialogue surrounding the butterfly’s imperiled future and beginning to put pressure on policy makers.

In August, several environmental groups — including the Center for Biological Diversity, the Center for Food Safety, the Xerces Society and others — filed a petition with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to have the monarch protected.


Environmentalists Petition to Put the Monarch Butterfly on the Endangered Species List as Its Population Plummets

By Richard Conniff

With Labor Day just ahead, people on both coasts and across the Great Plains should be celebrating the start of one of North America’s great migrations. The spectacle of monarch butterflies working their way back to their winter breeding grounds, across hundreds or thousands of miles, is the longest known insect migration on Earth.

It’s such a popular event, and the monarchs are so beautiful—their brilliant orange wings bordered with a black polka dot hem—that seven states have named monarch butterflies their state insect.

But this year, the parade is mostly canceled, and instead environmental groups have petitioned the United States Fish and Wildlife Service to list the monarch butterfly as a threatened species.

Read more at TakePart.com