Tag Archives: monarch butterfly

Giving Monarchs a hand

Where have all the butterflies gone?  If you think there are fewer butterflies, and just plain bugs, on your windshield compared to a few years back, you’re probably right. Recent studies point to alarming declines in both insect and butterfly populations. Most scientists think that the primary causes for these declines are the many changes we humans are making to our environment.  As we replace plant-diverse rural landscapes with simplified urban and suburban streets and lawns, we reduce habitat abundance and food supply for butterflies, among other insects. … Read More →

For Monarchs not all milkweeds are equal

Graceful and beautiful at the same time, the sight of a Monarch butterfly never fails to lift my heart.  In Texas, Monarchs are harbingers of both spring and fall.  In the spring, Monarchs are seen traveling north to exploit the emerging crop of milkweed plants favored by their caterpillars.  In the fall, Texas serves as a flyway for southward migrating butterflies, as most of the U.S. eastern population of Monarchs heads toward their overwintering habitat in Michoacan State, in the Sierra Madre mountains west of Mexico City. In recent years, however,… Read More →

Butterfly talks in Austin

I normally don’t post every entomology related event I learn about in Texas; however this notice from Mike Quinn, President of the Austin Butterfly Forum, is intriguing enough to pass on. If you live in the Austin area, or are fanatical enough to travel for butterflies, the Austin Butterfly Forum would like to announce a pair of back-to-back stellar meetings and field trips next month.  For the first time ever, all the remaining principal folks involved in the discovery of the monarch’s overwintering grounds, Catalina Aguado, John Christian, Bill… Read More →

Monarch tracking by cell phone

By all accounts, this is not turning out to be a great year for monarch butterflies.  The NY Times reports the smallest overwintering populations in Mexico in at least two decades, and the cold spring weather is not helping matters. An interesting animated map is available through the group Journey North showing how this year’s migration compares to the last few years’ migrations.  This kind of data is made possible through ordinary people with cell phone apps that allow anyone to report a monarch butterfly sighting. GPS based… Read More →