09 December 2012

From the least of us ... Protect Monarch butterflies

Benjamin Vogt at The Deep Middle (http://deepmiddle.blogspot.com) wrote about Molly Ginty's piece called "The Fall of the Monarchs". http://inthesetimes.com/article/14215/fall_of_the_monarchs#.UL9fqMupMBI.facebook

Ginty writes, " Scientists say that the downfall has been caused in small part by environmental factors, but mostly by two types of human meddling: the use of herbicides that are killing off milkweed plants in the United States, and the illegal logging of the pine and fir trees on which the monarchs make their homes for five months of the winter in central Mexico."

(By the way, not all scientists agree about Mexican logging being a contributing factor.)

But this is interesting, "Monarch butterflies warn of what might lie ahead for other wild creatures affected by overfarming and deforestation,” says Chip Taylor, professor of insect ecology at the University of Kansas in Lawrence, who founded Monarch Watch in 1992.
“It’s clear that this year’s total population is down, and that the overwintering group that just arrived in Mexico is among the lowest ever recorded.”

Vogt, "Says a lot we already know, but has new tidbits, too. Besides, can't harp on this enough. Reminds of the Bible quote that goes something like "what you do the least of these you do to me."
The devastating reduction started 15 years ago—very recently in the monarch’s long history. An estimated 250,000 years old, this species predates modern humans by 50,000 years....

In March, a University of Minnesota study linked 10 years of monarch decline to glyphosate, the most popular herbicide in the United States, used in brands such as Monsanto’s Roundup. An estimated 84,000 tons of glyphosate are applied annually to soybeans, corn and other U.S. commercial crops. On top of this comes 3,600 tons used in the home and garden sectors, and 6,800 tons used by private businesses and government agencies.

Though glyphosate may be a boon to farmers and landscapers, it is killing milkweed—normally among the hardiest and most stubborn of plants—in record numbers."
 
Do you have a Monarch waystation in your town, neighborhood or garden?
Three years ago we had dozens and dozens of Monarch caterpillars and births.
This year only a few.
Part of it I attribute to the second year of drought - they avoid our unusual heat and dry weather when it hits.
But the part about only half the number arriving in Mexico this year is indeed cause for alarm among butterfly hobbyists, scientists and environmentalists.
Please plant milkweed.
 
 

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