GLENCOE, IL (April 30, 2014)—It’s not too late to restore the awe-inspiring migration of the monarch butterfly, which used to fly north by the hundreds of millions to spend summers throughout the Upper Midwest and Canada, say members of the Alliance for Milkweed and Butterfly Recovery.
Learn more about the coalition’s work—and steps you can take to support the iconic butterfly—at a special “Make Way for Monarchs” event from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Friday, June 6, at the Chicago Botanic Garden.
“When most people think of a butterfly, they’re thinking of a monarch, with its distinctive orange, black and white wing markings,” said Kayri Havens, Ph.D., director of Plant Science and Conservation at the Garden. “The Alliance for Milkweed and Butterfly Recovery offers us science-based strategies to restore the monarch’s massive migration. Its members are calling all of us to action—everyone from large-scale farmers to home gardeners—to ensure the next generation of children growing up in the Midwest will have the chance to see one of these exquisite creatures landing on a flower in their yard or park.”
Presenters will describe initiatives —including work by citizen scientists—to restore monarch habitats in both rural and urban areas, and protect the migratory route of the butterflies. Monarchs fly up to 3,000 miles from their wintering grounds in Mexico and Southern California to the Upper Midwest and Canada, seeking milkweed all along the way. The plant’s floral nectar feeds adult butterflies, which lay their eggs on the milkweed. The emerging caterpillars feed almost exclusively on the plant, but the milkweed provides the monarch more than nutrients. The plant also transfers a toxin —signaled by the monarch’s bright colors—that keeps predators at bay.
“Make Way for Monarchs” is the Garden’s 2014 Janet Meakin Poor Symposium, named for a Chicago-area conservationist and landscape designer dedicated to preserving natural habitats. Speakers include:
- Gary Paul Nabhan, internationally known nature writer, food and farming activist and proponent of conserving the links between biodiversity and cultural diversity. Nabhan, co-author of Forgotten Pollinators, will discuss landscapes that support both the monarch and human food security.
- Scott Hoffman Black, executive director of the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, will describe his collaboration with farmers and other land managers to create and protect monarch habitat.
- Chip Taylor, founder and director of Monarch Watch and University of Kansas professor of ecology and evolutionary biology, will define the challenges and opportunities for monarch conservation.
The event will be held in the Grainger Gallery of the Daniel F. and Ada L. Plant Conservation Science Center. Registration is $79 including lunch, or $59 without lunch. The discounted student registration fee is $30; a limited number is available. Please call (847) 835-8261 for qualification information. To learn more about the symposium, go to chicagobotanic.org/education/symposia_professional_programs/monarchs.
A few facts:
- A recent U.S. Geological Survey study finds that 70 percent of Americans say conserving monarchs is “important” or “very important.” Respondents also indicated they would be willing to support monarch conservation by growing monarch-friendly plants or donating to monarch conservation groups. Study authors estimate the support would add up to a one-time payment of $4.78 to $6.64 billion. To learn more about the USGS study, go to usgs.gov/newsroom/article.asp?ID=3712&from=rss#.U1GYyRCdEl9.
- · When scientists first started monitoring monarchs in the early 1990s, roughly half a billion of the butterflies migrated north each year. Populations have fallen by roughly 90 percent since then, according to Scott Hoffman Black, executive director of the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation. He says, “These are animals that were found everywhere, but the population is in really rapid decline. The monarch may well become a rare visitor to the Upper Midwest.”
- · The M4M “Moving for Monarchs” initiative is organizing a march on Washington, D.C., during National Pollinator Week, June 16 to 23, 2014, to voice the need to protect monarchs and milkweeds.