"We have a major [Monarch Butterfly] conservation crisis"

Grkovich, Alex agrkovich at tmpeng.com
Sun Feb 18 06:59:03 EST 2007

Milkweed (and Monarchs) have now established themselves all over the hillside leading down to our backyard garden area in Peabody, MA...No shortage of either here...


From: owner-leps-l at lists.yale.edu on behalf of Paul Cherubini
Sent: Sun 2/18/2007 3:26 AM
To: Leps-L
Subject: "We have a major [Monarch Butterfly] conservation crisis" 

That is the claim Dr.  Orley "Chip" Taylor,
http://www.monarchwatch.org/about/direc.htm professor of entomology
at the University of Kansas made in an article that appeared yesturday in
a San Francisco California newspaper:

The article states: "The decline in the eastern monarch butterfly
population can be tracked by measuring the area the [overwintering]
butterflies occupy in Mexico." And then Dr. Taylor states in the article:
"In the winter of 1996-1997, monarchs occupied 21 hectares in Mexico.
The highest we've seen in the last 10 years is 12 hectares."

However, a vital and essential piece of information that Dr. Taylor
neglected to mention is that if one looks at the 30 year graph of the monarch
overwintering population size* in Mexico, no pattern of monarch population
decline is evident: http://i85.photobucket.com/albums/k75/4af/mexfin.jpg

Thus this supposidly "educational" article leaves the public was the false
and misleading impression that monarch populations in the eastern USA,
Canada and Mexico are in substantial decline.

The article goes on to state:

"A primary cause of eastern monarch habitat loss is the near-complete
conversion of the United States' 75 million-acre soybean crop to
'Roundup Ready' soybeans over the past 10 years. Today, milkweed has
all but disappeared from Midwestern agricultural fields."

But here again the university monarch scientists appear to have  failed to tell
the reporter that despite the widespread adoption of herbicide tolerant
crops in the Midwest during the past 5-10 years, milkweed and monarchs
continue to be spectacularly abundant along the margins of midwestern
agricultural fields:

Some 2005 pictures:

Including a field located near Horton, Kansas - just just 80 miles
northwest of Dr. Taylor's office in Lawrence, Kansas:

Some 2006 pictures:

Paul Cherubini
El Dorado, Calif.

*graph obtained by combining Dr. Karen Oberhauser's 1976-2001
graph with the 2002-2006 data available here


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