August 14, 2008

Bob and Thea Pyle plus Xerces charter member Dave McCorkle, Canopy Crane Site Director Ken Bible, and Research Scientist Matt Schroeder, in the crane’s gondola. Photo by Ray Davis, Wildlife Biologist for the Umqua National Forest.

Bob Pyle searching for Johnson’s hairstreak eggs and larvae in dwarf mistletoe 45 m up in old-growth western hemlock. Photo by Ray Davis.

Thea and Bob at the Wind River Canopy Crane at Carson, WA. Photo by Ray Davis.

McCorkle’s branded skipper. Photo by Ray Davis.


 

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The Xerces Society » News

Monarch butterfly population makes a modest rebound

By Peter Fimrite, SF Gate

The troubled monarch butterfly, whose winter migration is one of the most remarkable of any species, rebounded this year, raising hopes for the brilliant orange and black insect, according to the yearly count.

Some 56.5 million monarchs are gathered in Mexico for the winter after their amazing trek across the United States, scientists with World Wildlife Fund Mexico estimate. That’s a good deal more butterflies than last winter, when 34 million were counted in Mexico’s Sierra Madre, the lowest number recorded since 1993 when entomologists began keeping records.

A much smaller population winters in California, which saw an estimated 235,000 monarchs, a 50 percent decline compared to the 18-year average, according to scientists.

Read more at SFGate.com


Monarch butterflies rebound slightly amid milkweed planting

By Bruce Finley, The Denver Post

The latest monarch butterfly count found that the population poised to migrate through the United States rebounded from last year’s record low — but still ranks second-lowest on record.

Monarch numbers increased to 56.5 million from 33.5 million, according to data collected by the World Wildlife Fund and announced Tuesday by Mexico’s government.

“When you consider that in the mid-1990s the population was 1 billion, this is still a pretty low number,” said Sarina Jepsen, endangered species program director for the Xerces Society, a conservation group leading rescue efforts. “Monarchs are really in trouble.”

Read more at DenverPost.com


Monarch butterfly count rises as conservationists warn of extinction

By Reuters

A tally of monarch butterflies wintering in Mexico rose to 56. 5 million this year from a record low of 34 million last year but conservationists said on Tuesday the increase was too slight to reduce the threat of extinction facing the insect.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said last month the popular orange-and-black butterfly may warrant federal Endangered Species Act protections tied to declines in cross-country migrations because of farm-related habitat loss.

Sarina Jepsen, endangered species director for the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, said scientists had predicted that favorable weather in the butterfly’s breeding grounds in the U.S. Midwest and elsewhere would result in more monarchs migrating to Mexico this year than the 56.5 million estimated this week by the Mexican government and that country’s chapter of the World Wildlife Fund.

Read more at Reuters.com.


Protection sought for plummeting monarch butterfly population

By Jean Bartlett, San Jose Mercury News

Recently two Ocean Shore Elementary School teachers, second grade teacher Fran Quartini and third grade teacher Sheila Gamble-Dorn, took their respective students on a field trip to the Monarch Butterfly Natural Preserve at Natural Bridges State Beach in Santa Cruz. This is an annual classroom visit for both teachers and each marveled at the sight of the beautiful orange, black and white-winged creatures who settled by the thousands in the Preserve’s grove of eucalyptus trees — a safe place for the monarchs to roost until spring. Each teacher also expressed strong concern over the protection of North America’s most well-known butterfly. Their concerns are warranted.

On August 26, 2014, The Center for Biological Diversity and Center for Food Safety as co-lead petitioners joined by the Xerces Society (a nonprofit organization that protects wildlife through the conservation of invertebrates and their habitat), and renowned monarch scientist Dr. Lincoln Brower, filed a legal petition to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service seeking Endangered Species Act protection for monarch butterflies. Their petition goes on to explain that the monarchs have declined by more than 90 percent in under 20 years. The petition additionally states that during that same 20 year period, these “once-common iconic orange and black butterflies may have lost more than 165 million acres of habitat.

Read more at MercuryNews.com


Gardening to Help Monarch Butterflies? Plant Natives.

By Chris Clarke, KCET

With the recent declines in numbers of monarch butterflies leading to the popular insect becoming a candidate for listing as an endangered species, more and more gardeners are thinking about growing milkweed. Milkweed, after all, if the only kind of plant monarch caterpillars can eat, and so growing milkweed in your garden means you’re providing monarchs with a nursery and larder for their young.

But there’s a problem: there are about 140 known species of milkweed, some of them potentially invasive in California wildlands. In fact, not all milkweeds are of equal benefit to monarch butterflies. There’s even some thought that one popular tropical milkweed may be harming North American monarchs by changing their migration habits.

Fortunately, there are fifteen species of California native milkweed that gardeners can choose from to give monarchs a helping hand. Not all of them are readily available in nurseries, but with a little searching you should be able to find at least one species appropriate for your part of the state.

Read more at KCET.org