Butterfly Corner

Monarch cluster at Mexico habitat, Estela Romero, reporter, Journey North

Monarch cluster at Mexico habitat, Estela Romero, reporter, Journey North

Ryall, M. E. (14 March 2012). Butterfly Corner. Washburn County Register, p. 16

March 8, 2012 – Estela Romero, local reporter, Angangueo, Michoacan, Mexico, went to the Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary with monarch expert, Doctor Lincoln Brower, Sweet Briar College, Virginia.  Estela has been watching the monarchs for weeks and thinks they are more active. She saw many butterflies flitting about, instead of hibernating on trees. The scientist and his guide went to Chincua sanctuary. Further up the mountain, last year’s flood and mud slide damage could be seen.

Dr. Brower expressed his concern about how dry the Mexican forest is this year. In winter 2010, Monarch butterfly populations endured a terrible flood in the mountains, where the sanctuary is located. This year, the soil is baked dry and unstable because there are fewer trees to stabilize the mountains. It is so dry, that Dr. Brower is concerned, that the butterflies may not have sufficient moisture, which they use for respiration. Last fall 2011, Texas suffered a terrible drought. The state suffered massive fires. Texas is the gateway to and from Mexico for the butterfly. Lack of liquid and plant nectar in Texas may play a major role on the monarch butterfly migration 2012 .

Dr. Brower is concerned that now the monarchs may not have enough lipids to make the journey north this spring. Yes, many will make it, but what about the majority of the migration? Deforestation continues in Mexico. There are fewer Oyamel fir trees in the Mexican forest. Fewer trees mean fewer winter habitat for the monarch butterfly. Since the time of the dinosaurs, the butterfly has been around. How could a butterfly, which has survived throughout history, be so impacted by our material world and climate change in such a short time? We will follow the migration north to keep you posted.

The Monarch Butterfly Habitat in Shell Lake has some good news. Volunteer staff discovered that black swallowtail caterpillars and adult butterflies were seen in Shall Lake, in the summer of 2011.  With this news, Happy Tonics plans to include host plants for the butterfly. We want to welcome this species to the habitat.

Book cover copyright Lindy Casey, Salt of the Earth Press

Book cover copyright Lindy Casey, Salt of the Earth Press

March 24 –I did an author interview with Morgen Bailey, Northhampton, United Kingdom. Morgen interviews published authors and publishers. My book, My Name is Butterfly, was published by Salt of the Earth Press in 2011. The in-depth interview is posted at http://morgenbailey.wordpress.com/2012/03/24/blog-interview-no-318-with-writer-mary-ellen-ryall/

I am thrilled to have my book talked about in England and beyond the big waters. Happy Tonics has published butterfly articles in the UK before with Butterfly Observer, Cornwall Butterfly Conservation.

March 29 – The first week of April, I will be in Washington, DC. While there, I will attend Cindy Dyers one woman photography exhibit at Green Springs Garden, in Alexandria, VA. Cindy is Happy Tonics VP of Marketing. Check out her exquisite photography at http://www.gardenmuseshow.com/. I am doing a book tour in DC; Southern Maryland in Calvert and St. Mary’s County; and in Northern Virginia. I have been invited to speak at Meet the Author events. It will be good to see my old stomping grounds again.

Updates:

Morgen Bailey has a few interesting links for aspiring and published authors. Check out http://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/morgenbailey

You may want to connect with Morgen at New forum at http://morgenbailey.freeforums.org

Don’t forget to check out Morgen’s Blog at http://morgenbailey.wordpress.com

Mary Ellen’s Meet the Author event is scheduled at Calvert Pines Senior Center, Prince Frederick, So. MD, 12:30 p.m.

Mary Ellen’s Meet the Author event is scheduled at The Good Earth Natural Food Company, Leonardtown, So. MD, 9:30 a.m. – 12 Noon.

Decline of monarch butterflies overwintering in Mexico: is the migratory phenomenon at risk? – BROWER – 2011 – Insect Conservation and Diversity – Wiley Online Library

Decline of monarch butterflies overwintering in Mexico: is the migratory phenomenon at risk? – BROWER – 2011 – Insect Conservation and Diversity – Wiley Online Library.

18 March 2012 – According to Journey North, the monarch butterfly has left Mexico and may have traveled north by 1,000 miles. Read the science behind the article about the decline of monarch butterflies. We need milkweed to establish a pollinating corridor across the United States.

Too warm in Northwest Wisconsin week of March 11. Three people told me they saw monarch butterflies. How can this be? There are no milkweed plants up yet.

 

Monarch Butterfly Chatbook – The Egg

THE EGG – HUEVECILLO

The male and female monarch butterfly will fly from Mexico to Texas. There they will mate and shortly thereafter die. The mother butterfly urgently needs to find milkweed to deposit her eggs on. This last act will insure the next generation of monarch butterflies. There are four generations that wind their way towards Canada. The fifth generation is the one that lives the longest and returns to Mexico in early fall. How does the butterfly know where milkweed grows?

The butterfly flits over a field or garden looking for milkweed. Watch the flight pattern and you may see a mother butterfly looking for a host plant. Plants have ultraviolet patterns on their leaves and flower petals making them visible to pollinators such as the monarch butterfly. Humans can’t see this but a butterfly can.  A monarch uses a combination of visual and chemical cues to find milkweed.

Once a mother butterfly lands on milkweed, she uses sensory organs in her feet and head to make sure it is milkweed. A monarch may even drum on a milkweed leaf with her forefeet to be certain. The forefeet are located close to the head.   

Notice that there are three eggs on the milkweed plant in the illustration. The mother butterfly carries approximately 200 eggs in her stomach. She touches the abdomen to the underside of a leaf and deposits an egg.  The mother usually deposits only one egg per plant. There is a reason for this. It is probable that the first caterpillar to emerge from an egg will scout for other eggs. A caterpillar is able to defend its own food territory when there is no competition.  Eggs have protein.  Sometimes a mother butterfly is in a hurry and may deposit more than one egg on the same plant. This is known as egg dumping.

By depositing eggs on different milkweed plants, eggs have a better chance of survival if something goes wrong.  There are many risks to milkweed including: Some plants may not be as hardy as others; a storm could destroy a plant; milkweed might be removed because a gardener thinks it is a weed; a land developer could clear cut a large track of land removing all native plants; farmers may plant monoculture crops, genetically engineered crops and may spray crops with pesticides.

There is a loss of approximately 3,000 acres of farmland each year to development. Roadside crews may use herbicides (ER-beh-syds) which poison milkweed, a plant that grows along roadways, one of the major corridors of butterflies. If there is no milkweed along the migration trail, there will be no monarch butterfly migration. This is why it is so important to let milkweed grow.

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

Butterflies make partial comeback in Mexico

“Monarch butterflies, with their striking black-and-orange coloring, have made a partial recovery in numbers of butterflies migrating from the U.S. and Canada to Mexico this year, after historic lows last year.

Omar Vidal, director of the conservation group World Wildlife Fund Mexico, says the increase this year — 9.9 acres of colonies of butterflies, more than double of the 4.7 acres of last year — is positive news,” reports the Associated Press.

“These figures are encouraging, compared to last year, because they show a trend toward recovery,” Vidal said.

Lincoln Brower, an expert on monarch butterflies and a zoology professor at the University of Florida, says while this year’s recovery is good news, each time the butterflies “recover,” they still are lower than in the past.

“What is ominous is that all of the last seven years have been below average,” he said.

Rosendo Caro, director of the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve, says the number of tourists has fallen as much as 50% in recent years, down from as many as 110,000. Drug gangs in Michoacan, where the reserve is located, have prompted travel warnings about the area, though no violence has occurred within the 193,000-acre reserve.

Read the full article from Associated Press http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/L/LT_MEXICO_MONARCH_BUTTERFLIES?SITE=AP&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT&CTIME=2011-02-14-14-54-42

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

Spring issue Butterflies and Gardens Hits the Press

Dear Insectamonarca friends,

B&G Cover Spring 2010

Cover to newsletter

  We hope you will enjoy the spring issue of Butterflies and Gardens at http://happytonics.wordpress.com/

 We are sad to report that the monarchs will be migrating back to the USA with the lowest numbers since the 1970s when they were first recorded.  Read all about the floods and mudslides in Mexico.  Chip Taylor, University of Kansas and Monarch Watch, points out that illegal deforestation has compromised the Mexican habitats for many years.  

 May we all pay attention to promoting biodiversity and reforestation for the monarch butterfly and pollinating species including native bees.

Killer Winter Storm Hits Mexican Towns Near Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary

House destroyed by mudslide.

House destroyed by mudslide copyright Sue Sill, LCHPP

  I spoke with Sue Sill, Executive Director, La Cruz Habitat Protection Project, (LCHPP) via email yesterday. She is in Mexico now where the damage of floods and mudslides destroyed Angangueo and El Rosario, towns near the Mexican Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary.  We do not know the status of the monarch butterflies yet and what the survival rate is.  There is no way in or out at the present time. According to Monarch Watch, we will need to wait and see.

You can make donations directly to:  LCHPP, 404 Victoria Ave., McAllen, TX 78503.  We are also raising funds for LCHPP on Happy Tonics Facebook Blog. 

Read the news at CNN at http://www.cnn.com/2010/WORLD/americas/02/09/mexico.floods/index.html

October Hill Foundation in Connecticut donated $5,000 in seed money to initiate the monarch area assistance fund.

Won’t you please help by donating to help LCHPP?  Thank you.

Mudslide in Central Mexico

Road washout with a lonely dog copyright Sue Sill, LCHPP.

What would life be without the Monarch Butterfly?  The monarch is a butterfly of transformation.  Is she teaching us that clear cutting leaves the mountains vulnerable?  No tree roots to hold the soil can bring soil erosion through heavy rains which in turn can bring floods and mudslides.

The monarch needs the Oyamel fir forest to survive in Mexico.  Stop clear cutting to save the Mexican Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary.  Mexico is the home country of the monarch butterfly. Reforestation will begin in the spring with funds raised for LCHPP.

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