Milkweed and the Monarch


The Milkweed plant (Asclepias ) is the primary host plant for the Monarch Butterfly (Danaus plexippus).

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife has written that the recognized decline of the Monarch Butterfly is "likely due to a combination of factors, from habitat loss due to development, changing agricultural practices, and invasive species, to pesticide exposure and climate change ..."

(Photographs at the end of Articles list)


March 13, 2020:Mexico: Monarch butterflies drop 53% in wintering area

Mexico: Monarch butterflies drop 53% in wintering area

"The number of monarch butterflies that showed up at their winter resting grounds decreased about 53% this year, Mexican officials said Friday."

August 13, 2019:The plight of the monarchs: Trump order weakens protections

The plight of the monarchs: Trump order weakens protections

"Monarchs are in trouble, despite efforts by Moore and countless other volunteers and organizations across the United States to nurture the beloved butterfly. The Trump administration's new order weakening the Endangered Species Act could well make things worse for the monarch, one of more than 1 million species that are struggling around the globe."

July 3, 2019:Western Monarch Population Plummets:

Western Monarch Population Plummets:

"Western monarch butterflies dropped by ~97% of their average historic abundance between the 1980s and mid-2010s. In winter 2018-2019, the population plummeted even farther, to fewer than 30,000 monarchs, which represents a single year drop of 86% and a drop of >99% since the 1980s. The population may now be hovering at its quasi-extinction threshold."

April 20, 2018: Predicting monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) movement and egg-laying with a spatially-explicit agent-based model: The role of monarch perceptual range and spatial memory

Predicting monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) movement

"An ~80% decline in the eastern population of the monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) has prompted conservation efforts to increase summer reproductive success in the Midwest United States. Implementation of conservation practices will create a patchwork of milkweed (mainly Asclepias spp.) habitat within agricultural landscapes dominated by corn and soybean production."

November 1, 2017: Bicycling biologist pedals 10,000 miles along the Monarch butterfly's migration route

Bicycling biologist pedals 10,000 miles

"Wildlife biologist Sara Dykman is pedaling her way from the mountainous forests of southwestern Mexico to Canada and back, stopping at schools and wildlife centers to raise awareness about the migratory insect."

February 14, 2017: Monarchs Still Need Your Help


"The number of western monarchs counted this year was slightly greater than last year, but so was the army of volunteers. More than 100 volunteers monitored a record 253 sites and estimated western monarch numbers at nearly 300,000 butterflies. Despite the large effort to count monarchs, numbers were down at many of the historically large sites. This is the single greatest effort since the count began in 1997 and likely accounts for the increase in western monarchs compared to last year."

September 10, 2016: How Illinois plans to help save the Monarch butterfly

How Illinois plans to help save the Monarch butterfly. 9/10/2016

"As the monarch butterfly population continues to dwindle, conservation efforts and campaigns to increase awareness have increased, particularly in Illinois, which lies on one of the insect's migration paths."

August 29, 2016: Questions arise about the success of Monarch Rebounding

Are monarch butterflies dwindling or rebounding? 8/29/2016

"Despite reports of an encouraging rebound in the butterfly's population earlier this year, butterfly counts this summer are coming up short."

March 1, 2016: Reports from Mexico are optimistic about the Monarch's Recovery.

Mexico's Monarch Population is Rebounding - 3/1/2016

"An estimated 140 million monarch butterflies spent the winter in Mexico this year, a significant increase from last year. What conservation efforts went into this progress?"

September 28, 2015: The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) announced grants to help the poor Monarch and its dwindling food supply for the larva:

NFWF Announces $3.3 Million in Grants from Monarch Butterfly Conservation Fund - September 28, 2015

"The 22 grants, which will be matched by more than $6.7 million in guaranteed contributions, will support the restoration of up to 33,000 acres of [native milkweed] habitat in areas identified by experts as key to monarch recovery."

In the Sequoia National Forest, California, where I visit every few months, the milkweed habitat has not succumbed to big agriculture and development. Throughout the area there are four native species of Milkweed (genus: Asclepias ) for the Monarch (Danaus plexippus).

01-asclepias_cordifolia1220297w 02asclepias_fascicularis3359w 03asclepias_speciosa1250460w 03asclepias_speciosa1250460w
04critter_danaus_plexippus8509w 05danaus110030w 06critter_swallotail1070912w 07Oncopeltus_fasciatus1250464w
08asclepias_speciosa1250469w 09Pepsis_grossa1260563w 10critter_asclepias_speciosa5220w 11critter_milkweed1260573w
12asclepias_speciosa1160789w 13danaus_plexippus1030758w

More Photographs of Danaus plexippus

01danaus_plexippus07747w 02danaus_plexippus07749w 03danaus_plexippus1020208w 04danaus_plexippus1020270w
05danaus_plexippus1040558w2000 06danaus1130575aw 07danaus_plexippus1040535aw 07danaus_plexippus1040535aw

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