THE MONARCH BUTTERFLY The Monarch Butterfly, or Danaus plexippus , is one of the most beautiful and fascinating insects in North America. Unfortunately, due to habitat loss, the species is in rapid decline.
The Monarch Butterfly, or Danaus plexippus, is one of the most beautiful and fascinating insects in North America.
Unfortunately, due to habitat loss, the species is in rapid decline.
In Order to Help Save the Monarch Population, we must attempt to understand the species, including:
Winter Roosting Habitat
Help Save this Beautiful Insect
As the Life Cycle slide indicated, Monarchs lay their eggs exclusively on the Milkweed plant because it is the only source of food Monarch Larvae naturally feed on.
MONARCH EGG ON MILKWEED LEAF
MONARCH LARVA FEEDING ON MILKWEED
When Monarch Larvae feed on Milkweed they consume and collect a toxin that exists in the leaves of the plant.
The Monarchs, having an immune digestive system, then use the toxins from the milkweed as a defense mechanism.
The bright coloration of the Monarch serves as a warning to its predators of its bitterly unpleasant taste and ability to make some predators vomit.
Once an unwary bird catches and eats a Monarch you can bet that bird will never again prey on a Monarch.
The Viceroy Butterfly has a similar coloration and pattern to the Monarch Butterfly which acts as a defense mechanism. The Viceroy mimics the Monarch in hopes that predators will avoid it thinking that it has the same bitter, unpleasant taste.
The black stripe on the bottom portion of the viceroy butterfly’s wings is the main distinction between the two.
Did you know that it is possible to tell the difference between male and female Monarch Butterflies?
Thicker black veins usually means female
Black dot means male butterfly
Male Monarch Butterflies have a small black spot on the lower portion of each of their wings that female Monarchs do not have. Also, female Monarchs tend to have thicker black vein lines in their wings.
Over the span of four generations, Monarchs complete an incredible migration to one of three overwintering sites in southern areas of the continent. These sites include coastal California, the Neovolcanic belt of Mexico, and the southern tip of Florida.
East Coast Migration Route
The Neovolcanic Belt
Follow the link to view a video clip of Monarch Butterfly expert, Professor Lincoln Brower of Sweet Briar College, explain the Monarch migration and overwintering:
In order to learn more about the huge numbers of migrating Monarchs and the great migration itself, Monarch tracking programs have been developed where individual Monarchs are caught, numbered and tagged at no harm to the insect.
Angangueo, a small Mexican village, is located next to one of the most important overwintering sites for the migrating Monarchs.
The village is attempting to take steps to prevent the illegal logging of nearby forests to protect the Monarch, but it is a challenge.
Some of the lands around Angangueo have been designated as part of a Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve under the UN Biosphere Program, which is a positive step towards protecting the Monarchs.
Above is a picture of Monarchs in flight taken on the Biosphere Reserve.
Illegal logging of the roosting forests in Mexico of the overwintering Monarchs is one of the leading causes of the Monarch Butterfly’s recent population declines.
The thinning of the forests caused by illegal logging reduces the Monarchs’ habitat. It also makes the overwintering Butterflies susceptible to wind and temperature changes that kill hundreds of millions of Monarchs like the ones shown below.
Unfortunately, tourism, a promising economic alternative to illegal logging, is difficult to promote because of the language barrier.
By establishing the Sister Cities International Program between our local communities and the Village of Angangueo, we would have opportunities to collaborate with the village and contribute to the preservation of the Monarch.
A Sign Marking a Butterfly Reserve in Mexico
Learn More About the Sister City Program at www.sister-cities.org
Arlington, VA founded a Sister City Association under Sister Cities International. They are a Sister City to Aachen, Germany, Coyoacan, Mexico, Reims, France, and San Miguel, El Salvador.
Participation in Sister Cities International has provided:
There are several ways you can make a difference in the preservation of the Monarch Butterfly as well as many other beautiful butterfly and native plant species.
To Have a Successful Butterfly Garden You Will Need:
Here are some useful local contacts and resources that can help you with planning a native butterfly garden:
Map of Boxerwood Gardens
At livemonarch.com, you can:
- Sign up to receive free Milkweed seed packets
- Order live Monarch adults to release in your garden
- Learn more about their work saving the Monarch
- And much more!
Let part of your backyard or acreage grow wild and natural.
Excessive mowing and spraying of pesticides is harmful to Monarch Butterfly habitat. So in this case, less work can mean more reward!
You can also certify your yard or property as Backyard Wildlife Habitat through the National Wildlife Federation.Follow the link to watch a video clip about certifying your yard:
TO LEARN MORE GO TO: www.nwf.org