THE BUTTERFLY EFFECT: Help mission to save monarchs
Canadians are invited to help monarch butterfly conservation by taking part in the fifth annual International Monarch Monitoring Blitz, which kicks off today (July 23) and runs for 10 days through Aug. 1. Administered by the Insectarium de Montréal, Mission Monarch simply asks people to observe monarch populations by spotting eggs, caterpillars, chrysalises, and butterflies on milkweed plants.
The event, held simultaneously in Canada, Mexico, and the United States, allows researchers to identify priority areas for monarch conservation measures in North America. The annual monarch snapshots and the presence of milkweeds help gain a better understanding of the dynamics between the summer generations and their breeding habitat.
Now in its fifth year, the Blitz has collected over 4,000 observations to date. The data collected is uploaded to the Trinational Monarch Knowledge Network website, where it is available for anyone to consult or download.
How to participate?
Taking part in the Blitz is easy: Simply find milkweed, verify presence of a monarch, write your observations, and sign up and send data to one of the participating community science programs, which in Canada is the Mission Monarch program of the Insectarium (part of the Montréal Space for Life institution).
Facts about the Monarch
• Monarchs weigh less than a gram
• There are two recognized migratory routes in North America: eastern and western
• Migration covers 3,000-5,000 km across three countries
• The eastern migratory population has declined by more than 80% in 20 years
• The western population has declined by 99% since the 1980s
• Montreal has been a Monarch-friendly city since 2017
Evolution of the population
Monarch overwintering sites were first recorded by scientists in California over 200 years ago and in Mexico in 1975. Since then, the monarch, which moves between the three countries, has become an iconic species in North America.
After an alarming decline in monarch populations over the past 20 years, the eastern monarch population, which winters in central Mexico, showed a significant increase in 2018-19 over the previous year. However, this population has experienced two consecutive declines in the last two years (53% in 2019-2020 and 26% in 2020-21 compared to the previous year), and remains well below historical levels, indicating that conservation efforts are still needed in order to reverse the trend.
Meanwhile, the western monarch population, which breeds west of the Rockies and winters on the California coast, is close to extinction with only 1,914 monarchs reported in the most recent Western Monarch Thanksgiving Count, a shocking 99.9% decline since the 1980s. Public participation in community science programs on the West Coast is more important than ever in order to elucidate and address this dramatic population decline.
The Blitz is an initiative of the Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC) Trinational Monarch Conservation Science Partnership. Through the Blitz, scientists from the Montréal Space for Life Insectarium, Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC), Monarch Joint Venture, Journey North, US Fish and Wildlife Service, Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, and Comisión Nacional de Áreas Naturales Protegidas are inviting the public to help them learn about the distribution of monarchs and milkweeds across North America.
Montréal Space for Life
Montréal Space for Life is made up of five major attractions: the Biodôme, the Biosphère, the Insectarium, the Jardin botanique and the Planétarium Rio Tinto Alcan, together comprising Canada’s largest natural science museum complex. Their mission: to launch a daring, creative urban movement that encourages all of us to rethink the connection between humankind and nature and cultivate a new way of living.
For more details on Mission Monarch, click HERE.
First published at Travel Industry Today