YA Eco Mysteries, Memoirs, Novels & Travel
Monarch Migration Mysteries
For decades scientists have puzzled over of how monarch butterflies navigate over 2,500 miles from breeding sites across the eastern United States to overwintering sanctuaries in the Sierra Madre Mountains of Mexico. Now researchers at UMass Medical School and Worcester Polytechnic Institute seem to have solved the puzzle. Monarchs use a magnetic sun compass in their antenna to help them make find their way home! As the fall progresses monarchs will start to migrate south from Canada on their way to Mexico —so watch out for Monarchs in your area.
Unfortunately, one of nature's spectacles, the annual North American monarch butterfly migration, could disappear because of the deadly combination of extreme weather and habitat loss. A study by World Wildlife Fund estimates that number of monarchs has plunged by almost half this winter (2014), leading experts to suggest the monarch migration may disappear altogether
Threats to the monarchs include:
• Loss of native plants like milkweed
• Severe weather events
• Continued logging in Mexican forests
In the United States and Canada the monarchs’ natural habit is being destroyed by urban development, agricultural expansion, and by the loss of their critical host plant, milkweed. Milkweed is being wiped out by herbicides used by many landscapers, farmers, and gardeners. Pesticides can kill the Monarchs outright. The Monarch’s winter home in Mexico is even more threatened by increased logging of the fir tree forests where they roost. Both deforestation and increased agricultural development in Mexico are raising concern that the Monarch Butterfly may become an endangered species. The crux of the problem lies in economics. Lumbering is lucrative, and continues today even in protected areas.
What are some of the solutions?
• plant milkweed and native, pollinator-friendly species throughout the US and Canada
• Reduce the use of herbicide and pesticide
• Stronger protection of monarch wintering grounds
So add milkweed and other pollinator-friendly flowers to your garden. And ask your local parks and schools to plant a pollinator garden.
CREATE A BUTTERFLY WAY STATION. Monarch Watch can help turn yards and parks into Monarch Waystations, or butterfly-welcoming stopovers.
Fun Fact: Monarchs are the State Butterfly of Alabama, Idaho, Illinois, Texas, West Virginia and Minnesota.
The Adventures of The Sizzling Six: Monarch Mysteries (eco mystery series Book 6)
Connecting Project-Based Learning and Environmental Fiction (connecting teaching to the outdoor classroom)
Resources for Teachers: Monarch Butterfly Manual
Monarch Butterfly Journey North
The Monarch Butterfly web site
Monarch Butterfly Migration Threatened
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