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Sunday, January 24, 2010

Monarch butterfly count in Mexico lowest on record







Monarch butterfly count in Mexico lowest on record
Friday,  January 22, 2010 2:57 AM
TORONTO GLOBE AND MAIL
"The number of monarch butterflies in the Mexican colonies where the colorful orange-and-black migratory insects spend their winters has declined to the lowest on record.
"The colony size totals only about 4.7 acres this winter, compared with the previous low in 2004 of about 5.4 acres according to the latest Mexican census.
Although the slippage between the two years is slight and is being attributed mainly to weather-related factors last year, biologists and butterfly watchers have been alarmed by the trend to significantly smaller colonies. In the 1990s, monarchs occupied an average of about 22 acres of forests each winter, but in the past decade, the average size had shrunk below 12 acres, according to researchers at the University of Kansas.
"The trend has been downward for the last quite a number of years," said Donald Davis, an Ontario, Canada-based board member of Monarch Butterfly Fund, a conservation group."

To read the remainder of this article please click on the following link:

Source: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/monarch-butterfly-count-at-a-record-low/article1435827/

Here are some links to videos about Monarch Butterflies:
(a)Male and Female Monarchs
(b)A Journey to the Monarch Butterflies
These two videos can be viewed at the following website:
http://www.docfilm.com/webpages/USA/usaFr.html

(c) A video which discusses the life cycle of monarchs can be viewed at:
http://www.teachertube.com/viewVideo.php?video_id=124222 (watch it with your children)

Here are some facts about Monarch butterflies:

This butterfly
  • "migrates thousands of kilometres in vast numbers twice a year, a feat likely not performed by any other insect on earth
  • has been observed flying more than 1 km above the ground
  • is brightly coloured in both its larval and adult forms, a warning to potential predators that it is poisonous
  • has recovered from population losses approaching 90 percent in the past but may not be able to rebound from the population levels to which environmental factors are now pushing it"
"With its bright colours, large size, and slow powerful flight, the monarch Danaus plexippus is probably the most widely recognized of all North American butterflies. The bright orange wings, which span 93 to 105 mm, have a thick black border containing two rows of white spots. Male monarchs also have two highly visible black spots on their hind wings. The bands of black on the wing veins are wider on the female monarch."


"Monarchs can exist wherever milkweeds grow. Monarch larvae, or caterpillars, feed exclusively on milkweed leaves."

"Monarchs are wide-ranging and powerful fliers. They are able to seek out even the smallest patches of milkweed, including plants growing in city gardens and along busy highways. Not limited by human disruption, monarchs will breed readily on milkweeds in areas where there is a high level of human activity, as long as the plants are healthy."

"The monarch has also proved itself to be a highly adaptive species."

"During migration, monarchs conserve energy by riding columns of rising warm air, which greatly reduces the need to flap their wings for sustained periods. They frequently reach high altitudes where strong prevailing winds speed their flight. Glider pilots have observed migrating monarchs flying more than a kilometre above the ground."

"In the fall, monarchs migrate thousands of kilometres, travelling from Canada to Mexico.The monarch is unique among North American butterflies in performing an annual two-way migration in vast numbers from one area of the continent to another. Probably no other insect among the millions of species on earth performs a similar migration."

"Adult monarchs will feed on the nectar of many flowers, but they breed only where milkweeds occur. The leaves of the milkweed are the sole food of the larvae, or caterpillars, that emerge from the eggs."

"Like all butterflies and moths, monarchs have a life cycle with four stages of development: egg, larva—or caterpillar—pupa, and adult. These changes in form are also known as metamorphosis."
source of this information:  http://www.hww.ca/hww2.asp?id=34

The question that we have to ask is what role humans have played in the decline in the populations of Monarchs in Mexico?  With evidence existing that human activity causes changes to the Earth's climate, we have to believe that the declining numbers of monarch is due to some behavior the human species has engaged in or is engaging in presently.That behavior seems to be "recent illegal deforestation of the monarch's overwintering grounds, which is cited as the main reason for a-a drastic reduction in the butterfly's population." (source:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monarch_%28butterfly%29 )

According to the website:Helping Monarch Butterflies (Conservation)

"Monarch butterflies only lay their eggs on milkweed, and caterpillars only eat milkweed. But humans don’t seem to like milkweed very much and are cutting it down for various reasons. Sometimes humans cut down milkweed in order to build houses, buildings and streets. Sometimes the milkweed is cut down when trees are removed to harvest the wood. In recent years there have been a lot of wildfires that have destroyed a lot of milkweed. Humans cut milkweed down in their own yards because it doesn’t smell very good or they think it is a weed. But these humans don’t realize that monarch butterflies need the milkweed in order to survive, and the monarch butterfly population is dwindling."
Efforts to classify it as a protected species and to restore its habitat are under way.

 source of animation of monarch butterfly:http://www.fullfreestuff.com/free-graphics/animated-insects/flying%20insects.shtml

Here is link to an animation which shows the four stages of the life of a monarch butterfly:
(this type of development is called "complete metamorphis" by scientists):


the stages you can see are: egg-catepillar (or larvae)- chrysalis (or pupae) and -adult monarch butterfly

to view this animation click on the following link:
http://www.follenderwerks.com/galleries/the_monarch_butterfly/monarch_anim.htm



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Thoughts worth thinking about

"Our subconscious minds have no sense of humor, play no jokes and cannot tell the difference between reality and an imagined thought or image. What we continually think about eventually will manifest in our lives."-Sidney Madwed



Laws alone can not secure freedom of expression; in order that every woman and man present their views without penalty, there must be spirit of tolerance in the entire population.- Albert Einstein Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. - Leo Buscaglia



A person's true wealth is the good he or she does in the world. - Mohammed



Our task must be to free ourselves... by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and its beauty. -Albert Einstein



The best way to find yourself, is to lose yourself in the service of others. - Ghandi



The unselfish effort to bring cheer to others will be the beginning of a happier life for ourselves. - Helen Keller



Aim for success, not perfection. Never give up your right to be wrong, because then you will lose the ability to learn new things and move forward with your life. Remember that fear always lurks behind perfectionism. Confronting your fears and allowing yourself the right to be human can, paradoxically, make yourself a happier and more productive person. - Dr. David M. Burns



Life is as dear to a mute creature as it is to man. Just as one wants happiness and fears pain, just as one wants to live and not die, so do other creatures. -His Holiness The Dalai Lama



Mankind's true moral test, its fundamental test (which lies deeply buried from view), consists of its attitude towards those who are at its mercy: animals. And in this respect mankind has suffered a fundamental debacle, a debacle so fundamental that all others stem from it. -



Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being



The worst sin towards our fellow creatures is not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them. That's the essence of inhumanity. -George Bernard Shaw

Ego's trick is to make us lose sight of our interdependence. That kind of ego-thought gives us a perfect justification to look out only for ourselves. But that is far from the truth. In reality we all depend on each other and we have to help each other. The husband has to help his wife, the wife has to help the husband, the mother has to help her children, and the children are supposed to help the parents too, whether they want to or not.-Gehlek Rinpoche Source: "The Best Buddhist Writing 2005 pg. 165

The hostile attitude of conquering nature ignores the basic interdependence of all things and events---that the world beyond the skin is actually an extension of our own bodies---and will end in destroying the very environment from which we emerge and upon which our whole life depends.