Saturday, January 05, 2019

Monarch butterflies are in trouble

Monarch butterfly - Creative Commons photo courtesy of Wikimedia
A series of academic studies and news reports show that the monarch butterfly is in trouble.

A report published by the University of Florida showed that the number of monarch butterflies reaching their winter home from along the Atlantic coast has dropped by more than 80% since 2005. This report was written by Professor Hannah Vander Zanden of their Department of Biology and also appeared in the journal Animal Migration.

This echoes results published in National Geographic that focused more on western populations of the monarch butterfly, which also showed almost an 80% decline in their population. A third study by the researchers at the University of Texas-Austin showed similarily that these winged insects are in trouble.

I mention all of this because Michigan normally has a strong population of monarch butterflies. In fact, there are two areas in the Warrendale neighborhood of Detroit that have become strong habits for them. The Tall Grass Praire in Rouge Park is the largest and most strongly established one. Volunteers at the In Memory Of Community Garden at Minock and Whitlock Streets have also reported a growing population of these and other butterflies.

The fact that monarch butterflies - a winged insect that pollinates many other plants and enables them to continue growing - are in such trouble along with these two populations of monarch butterflies in Warrendale emphasizes, in my opinion, how important thee two programs are.

These programs are largely dormant for the winter but they will resume in spring, just in time for the surviving monarch butterflies to return to the Detroit area. While in Michigan, they will spend there summer here and hopefully lay enough eggs that to begin stabilizing their population.

The monarch butterfly in Rouge Park and at the community garden is, of course, one of the many stories that I will continue to follow in 2019.

Also, for my internatonal readers, may I suggest taking a look at "Protecting British Butterflies"by Chris Lee over on UP Gardner.

This post is a part of this blog's semi-regular Friday Focus series, which endeavors to highlight news and opinions that, in my opinion, don't get as much attention as they deserve. It's only because of scheduling challenges this week that my Friday Focus article is published on a Saturday afternoon.

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