Conserving the Monarch

Monarch Butterfly

Monarch Butterfly

The substantial decline in the Monarch Butterfly population in eastern North America is of enough concern that discussions have turned to strategies that could boost the populations. Female monarch butterflies prefer to lay their eggs on new growth milkweed. As the summer progresses, milkweed plants age and less new growth is available. A group of scientists asked if new growth milkweed could be enhanced by mowing milkweed. They mowed strips in a fields containing milkweed at a site in upstate New York. Milkweed mowed in early or mid July produced substantial new growth that encouraged egg laying. Mowing in mid-August was too late for the milkweed to recover and start new growth. Mowing strips in July extended the Monarch breeding season and increased the local population. They suggest that applying selective mowing of roadsides with substantial milkweed could significantly boost Monarch populations.

Sandra J. Fischer, Ernest H. Williams, Lincoln P. Brower & Peter A. Palmiotto. 2015. Enhancing Monarch Butterfly Reproduction by Mowing Fields of Common Milkweed. The American Midland Naturalist 173(2):229-240. 2015 

doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1674/amid-173-02-229-240.1

About jjneal

Jonathan Neal is an Associate Professor of Entomology at Purdue University and author of the textbook, Living With Insects (2010). This blog is a forum to communicate about the intersection of insects with people and policy. This is a personal blog. The opinions and materials posted here are those of the author and are in no way connected with those of my employer.
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