Archive for the 'Texas Nature Trackers' Category

Monarch Week: Milkweed and Monarchs

Tuesday, January 6th, 2015


Monarch on milkweed plant.

Monarch on milkweed plant.

This is Passport to Texas

Why are monarch butterflies declining?

06— The current thought is that it is actually several different factors that are contributing to the decline that we’re seeing.

Ben Hutchins is Texas Parks and Wildlife’s invertebrate biologist. Deforestation of the species’ winter roosts in Mexico, unusually cold winters, and prolonged drought along their migratory path, all have negative effects.

13— And then, finally, what this project is addressing is this widespread decline in availability of milkweed plants. That’s due to a couple things: predominantly increased use of certain herbicides.

Texas Milkweeds and Monarchs is a new citizen science project where folks keep an eye out for the state’s 38 different species of milkweeds –vital to the monarch’s lifecycle – and then then share their observations on the website

21— We have experts that are going to be looking at these observations and identifying those. We’re also working on a guide to Texas milkweeds, and that guide is going to be freely available online. It’s going to have pictures of all of the different species of milkweeds, distribution maps—so you know if you’re in the right part of the state—and also some of the key characteristics.

How you can get involved helping monarchs – that’s tomorrow.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti.

Monarch Week: The Value of Monarch Butterflies

Monday, January 5th, 2015


Monarch butterflies on hand.

Monarch butterflies on hand.

This is Passport to Texas

The gorgeous monarch butterfly is on the decline; efforts are afoot to conserve them. Yet, they’re not great pollinators, or a significant food source for other critters, so is being pretty reason enough to keep them around?

11—I think it’s important not to de-emphasize how important this is. If you’re ever out on a Texas river in the fall, and you have hundreds or thousands of monarchs coming through – that’s a fabulous natural phenomenon.

Ben Hutchins makes a good point. He is Texas Parks and Wildlife’s invertebrate biologist, and says the insects have a practical value in Mexico where they overwinter.

06— Overwintering monarchs are a really important source of economic income as tourists come from around the world to see them.

Conserving monarchs also benefits other Texas species.

30—Monarch conservation, benefits a whole suite of other species. So, for example, if you’re managing a landscape to benefit monarchs, you’re also going to be benefitting many other pollinators. They also benefit a host of larger species. For example, if you’re managing habitat – keeping it open as a prairie or savannah – that’s going to be benefitting upland bird species like quail; so there’s really an economic incentive of for being conscious of monarchs when we’re managing landscapes.

Tomorrow: a new citizen science project to help monarchs.

Funding provided in part by Ram Trucks. Guts. Glory. Ram

For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti.