Posted by: cindydyer | November 1, 2009

Monarch Butterfly Plagued by Another Risk

MEXICO—The monarch butterfly is returning to its country of origin today, All Souls Day (1 November 2009). This day is known as “El Dia de Los Muertos.” The returning monarchs are now being hit by the latest threat to their sacred winter habitat. The Mexican government was just starting to make a dent in illegal logging within the habitat when climate change brought about another disaster. The rains that normally begin in May were of no significance this year and July saw very little precipitation. Insects attack trees when they are under stress. Drought causes stress.  The pine beetles were able to take advantage of the trees weakened condition to burrow beneath the bark and slowly but surely kill the trees.

The race is on now to try to stop the invasion of beetles that are killing the Oyemal fir trees, the only wintering trees that the monarchs use for hibernation. The open canopy may cause even more devastation if it is a wet and windy winter in 2010. The special habitat was once a secure dry forest which now has an open canopy from the loss of trees.

Is there anything we can do? Perhaps we can’t help the monarch in Mexico but the butterfly needs our help in the USA also. Why not plant a butterfly garden and plant the host plant so that the butterfly will have an opportunity to reproduce itself? Visit http://happytonics.org/store/ to order common milkweed seed.

Read the full article by Mark Stevenson/AP here.

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