Tagging Monarch Butterflies Helps Track Their Migration


By Kevin Fitzgerald Every autumn, the Migration Festival takes place at Lighthouse Point on the seacoast of Connecticut near New Haven. It’s a celebration of flying creatures: birds, butterflies, and dragonflies. This event is a cooperative effort sponsored by the New Haven Parks, Recreation, and Tree Department; New Haven Bird Club; Audubon Connecticut; Menunkatuck Audubon […]

Scientists Document Illegal Logging in Monarch Butterfly Reserve by Using Drones and Satellite Photos


By Richard Levine Today I wrote a guest article for the Oxford University Press Blog. The monarch butterfly is famous for its migratory route, which can be as long as 2,500 miles. Unfortunately, the end of its destination is a mountainous part of Mexico that is home to oaks, pines and Oyamel firs, which are […]

Root Fungi on Milkweed Affects Monarch Butterfly Health


It’s been known for some time that toxins produced by milkweed plants can protect monarch butterlfy caterpillars from predators, such as birds, and from various parasites. Now researchers from the University of Michigan and Emory University have shown that root fungi that form a symbiotic relationship with milkweed plants also play a role in disease […]

New Monarch Butterfly Studies May Provide Reasons for Optimism


Eight new articles on monarch butterflies were published today in the Annals of the Entomological Society of America. “This group of papers is intended to give us the latest and best data available on the status of monarch populations and perhaps point the way to our best efforts to protect them,” said Lawrence E. Hurd, […]

Planting the Wrong Kind of Milkweed May Harm Monarch Butterflies


The monarch butterfly is the Bambi of the insect world in North America, a favorite among children and adults because of its colorful wings and its migratory pattern, which takes it as far north as Canada and south into Mexico and California where it overwinters. For decades, monarch populations have fluctuated, as this graph from […]

Study Finds Genes that Control Monarch Butterfly Coloration and Migration


The monarch butterfly is one of the most iconic insects in the world, best known for its distinct orange and black wings and a spectacular annual mass migration across North America. However, little has been known about the genes that underlie these famous traits, even as the insect’s storied migration appears to be in peril. […]

Purdue University’s Jonathan Neal Writes about Declining Monarch Population


At his Living With Insects Blog, Jonathan Neal links to a Washington Post interview with Lepidopterist Lincoln Brower about declining populations of the monarch butterfly, and he writes about some observations of his own. Reasons for the decline include deforestation, drought, cold weather, fewer milkweed plants, and fewer nectar-producing plants. Click here for Dr. Neal’s […]

Washington State Prisoners Raise and Release Monarch Butterflies


Some recent news article describe how prison inmates in Washington State are participating in a program that helps track the migration of monarch butterflies. The prisoners, who call themselves “the butterfly wranglers,” raise the insects from the egg stage, then they tag them and release them into the wild. David James, an associate professor of […]