Mexican Money for Monarchs

Paul Cherubini monarch at
Mon Nov 26 02:24:10 EST 2007

The article says:

> experts say illegal logging in Mexico threatens its existence
> in North America because it removes the foliage that protects
> the delicate insects from the cold and rain. "By even taking
> a single tree out near the butterfly colony you allow heat to
> escape from the forest and that then jeopardizes the butterflies,"
> said Lincoln Brower

What isn't mentioned is that the butterflies display a cluster
preference for areas of the forest that have natural or man made
openings - holes where the sun can reach them. So it is routine
to see the monarchs clustering around the perifery of holes in
the forest like this:

In other words, the scientists are failing to tell the reporters and
the public that the butterflies have an overwhelming physiological
need to cluster in open or partially open canopy locations in the
forest that receive direct or filtered sunlight even though these
locations are more directly exposed to the cold / rain / snow.

Another important point the scientists have consistently failed to
tell reporters and the public is that when a severe rain / snow / freeze
event occurs, up to 80-90% of the colony is killed INCLUDING the
butterflies situated in the more dense, more closed canopy type
areas of the forest. In other words, even if all these forests were
all dense and had a closed canopy, there would still occassionally
be storm events that kill 80% of the butterflies.

The article also says:

> disappearing habitat could threaten a delicate migratory route
> that has existed for an estimated 10,000 years. "The whole
> migratory phenomenon which involves two continents and
> over a million square miles could just go down the drain," he
> [Lincoln Brower] ]said.

Here again the scientists fail to tell the reporters there hasn't been
any "disappearing overwintering habitat" in Mexico due to logging
and that's why these articles never show actual photos of
overwintering cluster habitats that have been destroyed by logging.
The truth is the cluster habitats look the same decade after decade
like this:
(except in a few cases where some minor cluster areas were
temporarily destroyed by forest fires. In these cases the butterflies
merely relocated to adjacent unburned areas),

The illegal logging that these articles talk about has been
occurring in areas of the Reserve where the butterflies
never form their overwintering clusters, hence the logging
hasn't done any biological damage to the butterflies.

Lastly these articles tend to make the public think the migratory
and overwintering phenomenon of the monarch is a "delicate"
and "fragile" phenomenon.  The truth is that even the most
heavily urbanized cities in the whole world (such as Los Angeles)
support many overwintering sites and they are all man made
(clumps of non-native trees like eucalyptus situated in city
parks, cemeteries and golf courses).   In Christchurch, New
Zealand, for example, the City has made up a brochure
showing the public where the monarch overwintering sites
are located WITHIN the city:

Cemetery Site in Christchurch described in the brochure:
Aerial view:

City Park site in Christchurch described in the brochure:
Aerial view:

City Park in Christchurch described in the brochure:
Aerial view:

And here's a list of sizable monarch cluster sites in Los
Angeles, Calif. observed during the late fall of 1997:
(data lifted from

Paul Cherubini
El Dorado, Calif.


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