Monarch Butterfly Chatbook – Milkweed

MILKWEED – SUSTANTIVO

An important way to help the monarch butterfly is to first identify the host plant. Plant Identification has two names: Common and Latin. The birth of the monarch butterfly in the Chatbook frequently refers to common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca). The italicized Latin name first describes the Genus that is capitalized followed by the species in lower case. Native plants are perennial. Once planted they will start their own colony thus ensuring the future of the plant species.  

In spring, when milkweed is just emerging from the soil, the monarch returns to North America from Mexico. The butterflies will stop along the way in Texas where they will mate. Shortly after mating, the parents will die but not before the mother butterfly lays her eggs.  Butterflies with more than one host plant have a better chance of survival than a monarch with only one host plant. The female butterfly deposits her eggs on milkweed and it is the only plant that young caterpillars or larvae (LAR-VEE) eat.

Common milkweed grows in prairies, along roadsides, in agricultural areas and fields, at the edge of forests and even in one’s own backyard. Milkweed originates in the Americas meaning it is a native plant. There are approximately 100 species of milkweed in North America alone.  It is important to let milkweed grow for the monarch butterfly. Different generations of the monarch butterfly migrate to and from Mexico, North America and Canada each year, an estimated distance of 2,000 miles. Migrating north from Mexico, generations of female butterflies’ will need milkweed all along the migration trail. What is so special about milkweed?

Milkweed has several advantages. The plant has a long taproot which looks similar to a carrot taproot. Taproots can go deep into the earth to reach water; native plants do not need watering once they are established. Depth of plant roots is important in times of drought when there is little or no water. People around the world are starting to learn about Global Warming which can cause drought and severe storms.

Milkweed also contains cardiac glycoside a chemical that is toxic. Monarch caterpillars have the unique ability to eat the toxic leaves without any ill effect. Eating milkweed in its early life stage helps enable the adult butterfly to have a chemical defense against possible predators such as birds.  Often birds will throw up after eating a monarch. Captured bluejays were researched and videotaped as they ate milkweed and afterwards by Anu Uno Chellappau. On the other hand, my friend Anna Martineau Merritt has seen a bird eating a monarch without getting sick. Robert Pyle attests to this too. He watched as orioles ate monarchs at the Mexican Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary in El Rosario (55).

Sadly, I saw a monarch in my own garden that was less than 24 hours old. In the late afternoon it was resting peaceably on a bright pink zinnia flower and by early evening the new born butterfly had been attacked and killed by a predator. The wings were left behind but the body was gone. At times birds will eat the body which has nutritious fats. Perhaps a bird ate the body and not the wings where most of the toxins are stored. The butterfly also has bright colors that warn predators it is not good to eat.

Why is Earth Day Important?

Earth Day is Every Day although many people don’t realize that we need to protect the environment for future generations.

Reason being, Nature is being assaulted on many fronts. Xerces Society founded by in 1971 is a nonprofit

Bumblebee gathering pollen on late blooming aster

Bumblebee gathering pollen on late blooming aster

organization dedicated to conservation of invertebrates and their habitat. The reality is honey bees are declining because of colony collapse disorder. According to Xerces Society, “Native bumble bees are also at risk like many plants and animals, bumbles are suffering from loss of habitat, pesticide poisoning, changing climates, and diseases that were introduced along with non-native bees. Western bumble bee, the rusty-patched bumble bee and yellow-banded bumble bee used to be very common, but their numbers have decreased by 96 percent and their range shrunk by as much as 87 percent.” The Franklin bumble bee of Oregon and CA is thought to be extinct.

In 2010 President Obama launched the America’s Great Outdoors Initiative (AGO) with the aim of developing an agenda for 21st-century conservation and helping Americans reconnect with our nation’s lands and waters.

According to Robert Louve, author of Last Child in the Woods, children are suffering from Nature Deficit Disorder. Xeriscape Council of New Mexico, President George Radnovich states that Nature Attention Deficit applies to adults as well as children because as a whole American society is losing interest in the natural world. The natural world can live without us but we cannot live without the natural world.

Loss of habitat in three countries Canada, United States and Mexico is the main concern for monarch butterflies. World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has announced that the Monarch Butterfly Migration is at risk. According to WWF A well-preserved forest ecosystem in Mexico is critical for the survival of the Monarch butterfly wintering, which has been recognized as an endangered biological phenomenon, and the first priority in world butterfly conservation. There is also concern by Lincoln Brower, Professor Emeritus of Biology at University of Florida. Brower states in the NOVA film, “Incredible Journey of the Butterflies” that the monarch is facing an endangered migration phenomena. Monarch needs native habitat and biodiversity which are declining in the United States and Canada.

Farming which used to be run by families many of which practiced good land stewardship. Now farming is mostly run as Corporate Farms. Just like people, pollinators are poisoned by pesticides. The butterfly can’t find native nectar sources when large tracks of land are now being planted with monoculture crops.  USDA is looking at the importance of pollinators. The USDA has acknowledged that we need more biodiversity if we are to have pollinators’ to produce many vegetable crops and fruit. In 2006, a Science report documented what appears to be a major decline in bees in England and The Netherlands (possibly a 30% loss in species richness since 1980), especially among specialist bees, and a corollary decline in wild plant species that require insect-pollination.

Elaine Evans author of Befriending the Bumblebee

Elaine Evans author of Befriending the Bumblebee

Elaine Evans, author of Befriending the Bumblebee, will be the speaker at Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwa Community College (LCOOCC), Hayward, WI, on April 13.  Happy Tonics, LCOOCC, Web of Learning Sustainable Living Institute and the LCOOCC Library are sponsoring the event.   

Earth Day Event 2011. Ken Parejko, author of Monarch of the Butterflies, will be the speaker. Parejko is a Professor Emeritus of Biology at Univ. of WI at Stout. He is well versed in the monarch butterfly and has pointed out that we need to protect pollinators for future generations.  Plants are dependent upon pollinators. Did you know that butterflies are the second largest group of pollinators in the world after bees?

Happy Tonics, Inc. was founded in 1999 and has been involved in conservation work on behalf of the monarch butterfly and food safety issues ever since. Visit their Web site to learn more at www.happytonics.org

Stop illegal deforestation at Monarch Butterfly Sanctuaries

   
Published by Mary Ellen Ryall on Dec 10, 2010
Category: Environment
Region: United States of America
Target: United States of America, Canada and Mexico
Web site: http://www.happytonics.org
 
I thought this pupa was a jewel when I first saw it in the garden

I thought this pupa was a jewel when I first saw it in the garden

Background (Preamble):

The only host plant of the monarch butterfly (milkweed) is often a noxious weed in Canada. In the USA there is a loss of biodiverse agriculture and agricultural lands to urban sprawl and use of pesticides and herbicides.

In Mexico there is illegal logging of Oyamel fir trees within the Monarch Butterfly Habitat. In 2010 according to Monarch Watch over 50 percent of the monarchs died due to mudslides, freezing rains and floods within and around the sanctuaries.

 
Petition:
We the undersigned promise not to use pesticides or herbicides in gardening. We agree not to plant monoculture crops.

We promise to plant a variety of native crops and plants for pollinators and insect control. We promise to plant milkweed for the monarch butterfly to establish the next generation of butterflies.

 
To sign the petition go to http://www.gopetition.com/petition/41338.html

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