Monarch butterflies even more elusive in Minnesota this year

  • Article by: Bill McAuliffe , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 12, 2013 - 2:43 PM

The decline – “a problem with many causes” – is seen in other species, as well, experts say.

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theruntJul. 11, 1310:18 PM

My wife and I walk neighborhoods and parks. We have not seen a Monarch this year. I have seen just one honey bee. It is spooky. We are planting milkweed next year.

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bosshogJul. 11, 1310:28 PM

It seems a shame people aren't aware of what an interesting plant the common milkweed is. The flowers are very beautiful in bloom and you can easily smell the very pleasant smelling fragrance from them.

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kieronJul. 11, 1310:37 PM

This issue isn't helped a bit when our panicky public--no doubt living in chronic fear due to a diet of constant CNN reports--calls 911 about a bee swarm around midnight in St Paul, causing cops and firefighters to swoop in and kill off around 25K honeybees with fire retardant chemicals. Brilliant. Personally, I blame FOX and similar "news" television shows for instilling this constant state of fear in the American public. I know, I know, scoff if you will, but can't anyone see how fearful, panicky and witless we've become as a society?

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tmauelJul. 11, 1310:39 PM

There may be "many causes" but with roundup ready crops poisoning every living thing from coast to coast there is little room for Monarchs. And now that super weeds have developed on about 50% of the U.S. monoculture crops an insidious new toxin containing the dioxin based 24D has been approved for use. The rate of cancer and genetic deformities will go higher and more endangered species will disappear. Time for a change to organic sustainable farming.

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unkwnprsnJul. 11, 1310:42 PM

What if we didn't cover everything in Roundup?

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garcialaterJul. 11, 1311:32 PM

Plant asclepias syriaca, common milkweed, along with asclepias incarnata, swamp milkweed. I actually think they like swamp milkweed the best. 

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rlwr51Jul. 12, 1312:15 AM

So if you kill all of the weeds to grow more crops and in doing so you kill off the pollinators where does that leave you?

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paulTandbergJul. 12, 1312:32 AM

Roundup isn't the butterfly problem. And the emotional and misguided focus on Roundup is just confusing the issue and cloaking the solution.///// The problem is a lack of habitat. And this habitat is not being destroyed by Roundup or any other crop herbicide (a corn field is not the habitat butterflies evolved with or require, nor has a cornfield ever been a safe, or sensible, place for milkweed plants). Butterfly habitat has been lost because of much more effective farmland drainage, 400 hp tractors that can pull a 60' cultivator, 25' batwing mowers, and a farm economy that means field margins, wet holes, rock piles, and small groves of trees can no longer be afforded or left in place./////When I was a kid on the farm, our farm, and every other farm, would have some wet spots along the edges nearly every spring, wet spots that we would have to skip over during planting. Weeds and milkweed would grow there. And we had rockpiles on the corners of most fields, rockpiles which would yearly grow into nice little meadows of grasses and wild flowers (and milkweed). And there were old fence rows that weren't worth the work to remove, fence rows which meant strips of grasses, wild flowers, (and milkweed). And sometimes there would be a small patch of trees growing in a spot that just wasn't worth cleaning up. These nooks, crannies,and field margins added up...to habitat./////Now the farm ditches are laser leveled. There are fewer potholes and wet spots. And the few wet spots that remain present no problem to a powerful 400 hp tractor pulling a 60' cultivator that allows it to stay far away from the trouble (I grew up with a 16' cultivator). And the rockpiles have been buried, the fence rows cleaned up, and the small tree groves bulldozed. Can't afford idle land. And large batwing mowers keep everything, including all the roadside ditches, clipped clean as a whistle (no milkweed, no nothing but short grass).////I don't understand the (to me) inane, bent focus on Roundup. Scratch that, I do. But it is misguided. Batwing mowers and those nice, clean roadside ditches they leave in their wake have cut down the butterflies. Powerful farm equipment that laughs at wet spots and laser-leveled field ditches that actually do what they are supposed to do have desiccated the butterflies, and a farm economy that means every inch and nook of farm land needs to be cleaned and tilled has buried the butterfly./////There is a solution. If habitat is valuable, it has to be given a value and be treated as if it is valuable.

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khislopJul. 12, 13 6:17 AM

I have encouraged and planted both asclepias and had Monarchs visit and lay eggs.....the eggs are not hatching. I have not seen a Monarch caterpillar in three years. I garden organically. Has anyone else noticed the lack of viability of the Monarch eggs?

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garibaldJul. 12, 13 6:39 AM

I have a yard full of flowers, we let various butterfly larval weeds grow on our six acre property, clover in the fields, flowering shrubs, herbs, etc. I also have observed the lack of insects at flowers this year. Even my oregano which is the surest insect attractor I have has very few. This is frightening. With all the land devoted to suburban yards, people could make a great difference in habitat availability. Check out the National Wildlife Federation's website for advice on turning your yard into a certified wildlife habitat. www.nfs.org

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