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Monarch Butterfly

Today’s All-Star is not endangered, but its migration is: While the Monarch Butterfly is considered common, its unique winter migration is under threat, crippled by climate change and unsustainable logging in Mexico, where it overwinters. While the IUCN has not assessed the threat to the species, the organization does considered its migration at risk, a fear underscored by news from the Fort-Worth Star Telegram that Monarchs were hit hard by devastating rainstorms and mudslides in Mexico’s state of Michoacan this February, storms which killed forty people and caused widespread flooding. The population heading north to breeding grounds east of the Rockies will be the smallest measured since 1975, when the Mexican butterfly sites were first discovered, reduced by some 50-60%. “We’ve never seen it this bad before,” said Chip Taylor, a professor of entomology at the University of Kansas and director of Monarch Watch, a conservation group that helps citizen-scientists monitor Monarch populations and engages kids in tagging insects and collecting data. Monarch Watch is calling on gardeners, butterfly enthusiasts, farmers, and state highway departments to plant milkweed, the preferred food of the Monarch: Even if it’s too late to help returning butterflies this spring, the plants will aid those heading south in the fall. The Monarch Watch Shop has a great selection of books, Monarch rearing and tagging kits, t-shirts: Your purchases help support research and education.
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