WATCH CAPE ANN’S MONARCH BUTTERFLIES ON BBC AUTUMNWATCH NEW ENGLAND TODAY!

Dear Friends of Beauty on the Wing,

Unlike the UK’s BBC, where Autumnwatch New England aired four consecutive evenings, the series is only running three nights in the U.S., and the Monarch episode is not included in tonight’s PBS version of the show.

The good news though is that the Monarch episode aired last night on the BBC, the final night of the UK series, and you can watch it right now, on youtube!

The series is not yet available on the BBC’s website but it has been posted here [https://youtu.be/RB5FkrvuVzU].

A friend shared an email from her sister last night. Her sister lives in the UK and here is what she wrote about Gloucester-

So exciting!
We were idly watching a programme called Autumn watch which this year has been filmed in New England. It has been based in New Hampshire (Lake Squam). They began to talk about the migration of the monarch butterflies when suddenly they are in Gloucester! We had very good pictures of Gloucester which looked beautiful! Lovely pictures of good harbour beach etc…..
They’ve now gone to Boston and are talking about wild turkeys!
What a programme!
Love M.

MONARCH PROTECTOR LINCOLN BROWER DIES

By Matt Schudel WASHINGTON POST JULY 23, 2018
WASHINGTON — Lincoln Brower, one of the foremost experts on the monarch butterfly, who spent six decades studying the life cycle of the delicate orange-and-black insect and later led efforts to preserve its winter habitat in a mountainous region of Mexico, died July 17 at his home in Nelson County, Va. He was 86.

He had Parkinson’s disease, said his wife, Linda Fink.

Dr. Brower, who taught at Amherst College in Massachusetts and the University of Florida before becoming a research professor at Virginia’s Sweet Briar College in 1997, began studying the monarch butterfly in the 1950s.

He made key discoveries about how it protected itself by converting a toxic compound from its sole food source, the milkweed plant, into a chemical compound that sickened its predators, primarily birds.

Dr. Brower’s famous “Barfing Bluejay” photo of a bird wretching after eating Monarchs, proved Monarchs don’t tast good. Dr. Lincoln Brower photo.

In the 1970s, other scientists discovered that monarchs had extraordinary migratory powers, more like birds or whales than insects. Each fall, monarchs from east of the Rocky Mountains travel thousands of miles to a Mexican forest, where they spend the winters. Monarchs from western North America migrate to California.

‘‘It has the most complicated migration of any insect known,’’ Dr. Brower told the Chicago Tribune in 1998. ‘‘Somehow they know how to get to the same trees every year. It’s a highly specific behavior that is unique to the monarch butterfly.’’

It takes three to four generations of monarchs to complete the one-year life cycle. After the migration to Mexico, the butterflies begin their return trip to North America, and a new generation is born en route, growing from larvae to caterpillars before taking flight.

With the arrival of cooler weather in the fall, the great-grandchildren of the monarchs that flew south the previous year will make the same trip, returning to the mountainsides visited by their ancestors.

‘‘It’s an inherited pattern of behavior and a system of navigation that we don’t really understand,’’ Dr. Brower said in 2007. ‘‘We don’t know exactly how they find their way. We don’t know how they know where to stop.’’

Dr. Brower first visited the monarchs’ winter quarters in a Mexican forest, about 80 to 100 miles west of Mexico City, in 1977. At an elevation of 9,500 to 11,000 feet, tall fir trees were entirely covered by hundreds of millions of butterflies.

When they stir their wings, ‘‘it sort of sounds like leaves blowing in the fall,’’ said Dr. Brower’s son, Andrew Brower, a biologist and butterfly expert at Middle Tennessee State University, in an interview. ‘‘It’s remarkable. You look up, and the sky is blue, but then it’s orange. It’s like an orange stained-glass window above your head.’’

During more than 50 trips to Mexico to study monarchs, Dr. Brower began to see that their numbers were shrinking.

In North America, Dr. Brower also pointed out, the monarchs face a further problem from the growing use of herbicide, which has eradicated much of their food source, the once-abundant milkweed.

There are still millions of monarchs in North America, but their numbers fluctuate from year to year, in an ever-downward trend. By some counts, the population has fallen by as much as 90 percent since the 1980s.

Dr. Brower joined efforts by environmental groups to have the monarch recognized as a ‘‘threatened’’ species.

Lincoln Pierson Brower was born Sept. 10, 1931, in Madison, N.J. His parents had a nursery and rose-growing business. He was 5 when he took notice of an American copper butterfly landing on a clover bloom. ‘‘I just stared at that tiny butterfly, and it was so beautiful to me,’’ he told NPR. ‘‘And that was the beginning.’’

He graduated from Princeton University in 1952, then received a doctorate in zoology from Yale University in 1957. Some of his early scientific papers were written with his first wife, the former Jane Van Zandt. That marriage ended in divorce, as did a second, to Christine Moffitt.

Mr. Brower leaves his wife of 27 years, Linda Fink, a professor of ecology at Sweet Briar College and a frequent scientific collaborator; two children from his first marriage, Andrew Brower of Christiana, Tenn., and Tamsin Barrett of Salem, N.H.; a brother; and two grandchildren.

With President Jimmy Carter

READ MORE HERE:

https://texasbutterflyranch.com/2015/02/16/q-a-dr-lincoln-brower-talks-ethics-endangered-species-milkweed-and-monarchs/

https://monarchjointventure.org/news-events/news/remembering-lincoln-brower-a-world-renowned-monarch-conservation-leader

Dr. Lincoln

IN LOVING MEMORY OF MY FREIND AND MENTOR THOMAS EMMEL

This has been a stunning week for loss of life, with the suicide of Anthony Bourdain coming on the heels of Kate Spade’s suicide. Please dear hearts, no matter how depressed and overwhelmed, suicide is never, ever the answer. I learned several days ago that a friend passed away. I had the great fortune to travel with Tom Emmel in 2014 to the Monarch butterfly sanctuaries and we developed a lasting friendship. He shared information generously–it was his 44th trip to Angangueo–and he was one of the first scientists to study the Monarchs in their winter home. Tom leaves behind a lifetime of friendships as well as his legacy in research and conservation.

Tom loved the people and town of Angangueo; here he is in his element at the Sierra Chinqua Monarch Butterfly Reserve.

THOMAS EMMEL
CHADBOURNE PH.D
It is with great sadness that the family of Dr. Thomas C. Emmel announce his passing on Saturday, May 26, 2018, while traveling abroad in Brazil. He was 77 years old.
Tom is lovingly remembered by his brother, John Emmel (Phyllis), his nephew, Travis, and his niece, Alexis. In addition, a multitude of friends, colleagues and former students will forever honor Tom – a noted conservationist, naturalist, prolific author and visionary – for his kindness, humor, encyclopedic knowledge and wide-ranging interests. He epitomized the ideal of the professor as educator, mentor, supporter and inspiration.
Born on May 08, 1941, Tom grew up in Los Angeles, California. His parents, Edward and Ardyce Emmel, met on an outing sponsored by the Sierra Club and encouraged an interest in nature, including taking Tom and his brother on many camping trips to all the national parks in the western U.S. Around age eight, at the suggestion of his father, Tom, then younger brother John, began collecting butterflies on all their family trips. This began a lifelong passion they shared. Their mother further encouraged their interest by driving them to entomological society meetings at Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History. His parents, a den mother and scout master, respectively, were very much involved with the scouting program, and the brothers were Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, and Explorer Scouts, and became Eagle Scouts as well.
When Tom was a high school senior, he was one of 40 winners of the Westinghouse Science Talent Search, for which he won a trip to Washington, D.C. Upon graduating from high school, Tom went with ornithologist L. Irby Davis, for a three month trip to southern Mexico. Tom assisted Mr. Davis in recording bird songs in the early morning and evening, then collected butterflies during the mid-day. He returned to southern California with several thousand specimens – and his lifetime interest in tropical entomology was secured. As it would turn out, some of those specimens were representative of a new species – which in April 2018 was named Cyllopsis tomemmeli in his honor.
Tom earned his B.A. at Reed College in 1963. During the summer breaks from college, Tom was a nature counselor at Sanborn Western Camps for Kids, in Colorado. He earned his Ph.D. in Population Biology at Stanford University in 1967, and was a Post-doctoral Fellow in Genetics at the University of Texas from 1967-1968. His unbridled commitment to and support of the University of Florida began in 1968 when he joined its faculty as Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences & Zoology. In 1973, he became an Associate Professor of Zoology and three years later, in 1976, he became a Professor of Zoology. He served as department chairman for Zoology, directed the Department of Zoology Division of Lepidoptera Research from 1980-2003, and directed the UF Boender Endangered Species Laboratory since its inception in 1995.
In 2004, Tom was chosen to be the Founding Director of the Florida Museum’s McGuire Center for Lepidoptera and Biodiversity at the University of Florida. The McGuire Center was Tom’s vision and concept: A state-of-the-art research and teaching center that focused on Lepidoptera and the biodiversity they represent, and by extension a facility that engaged the public and created awareness of nature’s beauty and relevance to our lives. The Center was brought to fruition by the generous support of Dr. and Mrs. William McGuire, lifelong friends and admirers of Tom and his efforts. Under Dr. Emmel’s leadership, The McGuire Center for Lepidoptera and Biodiversity has become world-renowned for research on biodiversity, habitat loss, and Lepidoptera; a major publisher of related scientific studies; a force in public education about our environment and its biodiversity; and the repository for the largest collection of Lepidoptera specimens in the world
Tom authored more than 400 scientific publications, including 35 books. His many personal research interests included the endangered Schaus Swallowtail population in the Florida Keys; the effects of mosquito control pesticides on non-target wildlife and humans living in south Florida; microevolution, population biology, and ecological genetics of Cercyonis butterflies; chromosome evolution and macroevolution in the Lepidoptera; mimicry complexes in Mechanitis and Melinaea ithomiine butterflies in the Neotropics; biology, life histories, ecology, and conservation of the California butterfly fauna; fossil butterflies; and butterfly diversity in many areas of the world. He worked tirelessly to encourage efforts to promote conservation and natural habitat preservation, such as through the Miami Blue–Save Wild Florida license plate initiative and conservation biology efforts for the overwintering Monarch butterfly sites in southern Mexico. Throughout his lifetime, Tom mentored countless students – fostering and encouraging their careers in entomology, taxonomy, the study of tropical rainforests, and conservation biology.
Dr. Tom Emmel leaves behind a tremendous and unparalleled legacy. His vision, imagination, and energy in the service of conservation and Lepidoptera will continue to inspire and inform future generations of scientists, as well as the public in general. His life work contributed to making a better world, and the impact will be enduring.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations in memory of Tom can be made to the Thomas C. Emmel Founding Director’s Endowment, which supports collections and research at the Florida Museum’s McGuire Center.
Funeral services and a celebration of life for Tom are to be announced in the near future.
Arrangements are under the care of MILAM FUNERAL AND CREMATION SERVICES 311 South Main Street Gainesville, FL (352) 376-5361 www.milamfh.com

KIM SMITH GUEST SPEAKER FOR THE WELLESLEY CONSERVATION COUNCIL ANNUAL MEETING

PLease join me Tuesday evening at 7:00pm at the Wellesley Free Library for the Wellesley Conservation Council Meeting. I am giving my newly updated Beauty on the Wing lecture. This program is free and open to the public. I hope to see you there!

Monarch Butterflies–Beauty on the Wing
How can Wellesley help Monarchs throughout Their Life Cycle?
WHAT: Wellesley Conservation Council Spring Lecture
WHO: Kim Smith, Naturalist and Award-winning Photographer
WHEN: Tuesday, April 24, 2018 – 7:00pm
WHERE: Wakelin Room, Wellesley Free Library
The Monarch’s life story is one of nature’s most incredible examples of adaptation and survival. But the Monarch migration is in great peril. Learn how you can help. Through photographs and discussion, Beauty on the Wing tells the life story of the Monarch Butterfly, the state of the butterflies’ migration and why they are in sharp decline, and the positive steps we can take as individuals and collectively to help the Monarchs recover from devastating effects of habitat loss, climate change, and pesticides.
Kim Smith is an award winning nature author, documentary filmmaker, native plant landscape designer, and naturalist. She specializes in creating pollinator habitat gardens utilizing primarily North American native wildflowers, trees, shrubs, and vines.
The Wellesley Conservation Council Annual Meeting for the election of officers and board members will precede the program at 6:30pm. This event is free and co-sponsored by Wellesley Free Library. For more information go to http://www.wellesleyconservationcouncil.org.

Kim Smith keynote and ‘Friend of the Earth’ award from Salem State University Earth Day 2018

Kim Smith - Amanda Madeira photo
courtesy photo by Amanda Madeira: Kim Smith receiving Salem State University ‘Friend of the Earth Award’ April 12 2018

The 2018 week-long Earth Day events at Salem State University culminated with an evening awards ceremony on April 12th. Kim Smith was the invited 2018 Keynote Speaker, and Friend of the Earth Award recipient! It’s an extraordinary fit as Kim Smith’s life’s work across media –whether its her acclaimed and award-winning films, photography, landscape design, art, or writing– calls us to marvel and commune with nature. She’s a champion Friend of the Earth.

Kim Smith is henceforth included in this distinguished Salem State University Friend of the Earth list, an ambassador for the natural world, our region and Massachusetts!

 

Earth Days at Salem State University – Past Friend of the Earth Award Recipients:

*2001-2017 list- Compiled by Prof. John Hayes, Geography, and co-chair, Salem State University (SSU) Earth Day Planning Committee

  • 2018 – KIM SMITH award winning photographer, filmmaker, landscape designer, artist, and writer. Author of Oh Garden of Fresh Possibilities! Notes from a Gloucester Garden
  • 2017- 
  • 2016: Naomi Oreskes, Ph.D.—(Professor, Harvard Univ.), co-author, Merchants of Doubt, …….
    Bob Prescott—(Exec. Director, Wellfleet Ocean Sanctuary)…..
  • 2015: Larry Chretien—(Executive Director, Energy Consumers Alliance of New England and of Mass Energy – for his advocacy and leadership for over 20 years to champion the benefits of renewable energy alternatives in the New England region for our states, cities and towns, and our utility companies that provide us electricity and energy; as Executive Director of Mass Energy and the Energy Consumers Alliance of New England – he demonstrated how consumer-oriented non-profit organizations can lead the way in promoting affordable and environmentally
    sustainable energy resources.)
  • 2014: Gerard (Jerry) Bertrand (Environmental Adviser, Permian Global – for his enduring commitment to preservation of land and habitat; for his past service as head of international affairs for the U.S. Fish & Wildlife
    Service, his chairmanship of BirdLife International, his service as president of Massachusetts Audubon Society and cofounder of World Land Trust, and his service at Permian Global and its efforts to protect natural forests globally to
    sequester carbon, mitigate climate change, and preserve habitat through investment.)
  • 2013 Frances Moore Lappe – (co-founder of Small Planet Institute and author of 18 books including the landmark Diet for a Small Planet, World Hunger – Twelve Myths, Food First – Beyond the Myth of Scarcity, Hope’s Edge, and EcoMind – Changing the Way We Think, to Create the World We Want.) Marc Rodgers – (Communications Director, Cape Wind Associates – for his continuing efforts for more than ten years to communicate and educate about the proposed Cape Wind wind farm project on Nantucket Sound and for his efforts to help shepherd the project through the long-lived environmental review process.)

Continue reading “Kim Smith keynote and ‘Friend of the Earth’ award from Salem State University Earth Day 2018”

MONARCH BUTTERFLIES AT SALEM STATE UNIVERSITY! -BY KIM SMITH

Please join us on Thursday evening at Salem State University for Earth Days Week celebrations and awards ceremony. I am giving the keynote address.

This event is entirely free and open to the public. I hope to see you there!

I have been pouring through photos from this year’s past late great Monarch migration to create the new “Beauty on the Wing” program that I am giving Thursday evening at Salem State.

My favorite thing to do photographing butterflies is to capture them mid-flight.  Working on landscape design projects and film projects back to back I only had time to upload and didn’t have a chance to look through the film footage and photos daily. I discovered a bunch of photos that are worthy of adding to the presentation–a photographer’s idea of finding buried treasure–and these are two of my favorites.

MY NEW FRIEND KIKI <3

Six-year-old Kiki from Essex came to Cape Ann Reads today with her Grandmom Susie to connect about Monarchs. Kiki successfully raised fifty Monarch butterflies this past summer, from eggs she collected herself in the wild. After they emerge from their chyrsalides, she brings the butterflies to places such as the Italian Garden at Crane Estate and gives them to people to release, along with a handout on how to raise Monarchs.Six-year old conservationist Kiki from Essex

OFRENDA DE MUERTOS GLOUCESTER

Whether on the wings of a butterfly or the seat of a ferris wheel, the souls of loved ones return to earth to be remembered by their families and friends.

In late October millions of Monarchs begin to arrive to the magnificent oyamel fir and pine tree forests of the Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt, located in the heart of Mexico in the eastern regions of Michoacán. Their return coincides with the annual celebration of Día de los Muertos, the Day of the Dead fiesta. Native peoples and their descendants today believe butterflies are the souls of departed loved ones, returning to Earth to be remembered by their ancestors. An even older tradition connects the Monarchs with the corn harvest, as their return signified that the corn was ripe. In the language of the native Purpécha Indians, the name for the Monarch is “harvester.”

Ofrenda de Muertos Gloucester

HOW RELOCATING TREES COULD HELP SAVE THE MONARCH BUTTERFLIES

monarchs-el-rosario-c2a9kim-smith-2014In February of 2014 when I traveled to El Rosario Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve in Angangueo to film the Monarchs, we encountered some difficulty locating the butterflies. Because of global warming conditions the Monarchs had roosted much further up the mountain than was typical. We needed to climb an additional 1500 feet, nearly to the top of the mountain. There was no place higher for the butterflies on this mountain and I wondered at the time, where would they go as the earth becomes increasingly warmer.

Butterflies are heliothermic, which means they gain heat from the sun. During the winter it is imperative that the butterflies remain relatively cool and in a state of sexual immaturity, called diapause. The sheltering boughs of the sacred Oyamel Fir (Abeis religiosa) trees and the cool temperatures at the higher altitudes of the Trans-Mexican Volcanic Mountain Belt, in the past, have provided optimal habitat for the butterflies.

El Rosario ©Kim Smith 2014Leaving the Chaparral and Entering the Oyamel Fir Forset

Oyamel Fir trees Abeis religiosa ©Kim Smith 2014 copyOyamel Fir Forest

The butterflies currently roost at altitudes between 9,500 and 10,800 feet. Mexican scientists are planning to progressively move the trees higher up the mountainsides in a race to save the fir trees. Last summer several hundred seedlings were planted at 11,286 feet where habitat best suited to Monarchs is expected to be by 2030.

Excerpt from “To Protect Monarch Butterfly, a Plan to Save the Sacred Firs”

By Janet Marinelli

“While U.S. biologists urge gardeners to plant milkweeds to help restore the monarchs’ summer habitat, Mexican scientists are pinning their hopes on a plan to move the species progressively higher up local mountainsides in a race to save these firs and the butterflies that depend on them. “We have to act now,” says the plan’s architect, Cuauhtémoc Sáenz-Romero, a forest geneticist at the Universidad Michoacana de San Nicolás de Hidalgo. “Later will be too late, because the trees will be dead or too weak to produce seeds in enough quantity for large reforestation programs.”

When the rainy season arrived last summer, a few hundred seedlings were planted at 11,286 feet, where habitat suited to oyamel fir trees is expected to be by 2030. By then, according to retired U.S. Forest Service geneticist Jerry Rehfeldt, who co-authored a paper with Sáenz-Romero on global warming’s effect on oyamels, temperatures in the reserve could rise above pre-industrial levels by 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit by 2030, and suitable habitat could shrink by nearly 70 percent. The scientists’ research further suggests that by the end of the century, habitat that meets the fir’s needs may no longer exist anywhere inside the reserve. Trees would have to be planted at higher altitudes on peaks more than 100 miles away from the monarch’s migratory home.

The sacred fir is a poster child for the plight of trees around the globe. Trees provide habitat for countless species and underpin ecosystems as well as human economies, but as a group they are highly imperiled. A diagram in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s 2014 Working Group II report shows that of all life forms, trees are least able to respond to rapid climate change. Rooted in place, they have not evolved for rapid locomotion. Many take decades to mature and reproduce.

The breakneck speed of current global warming dwarfs anything in the fossil record, even what Lee Kump, professor of geosciences at Penn State University, has called “the last great global warming” 56 million years ago during the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum. At that time, over the course of a few thousand years, global temperatures soared 9°F as the supercontinent Pangaea broke apart. By comparison, if carbon emissions are not slashed soon, scientists warn it’s possible we could witness that much warming in a matter of centuries, if not decades. Without human help, trees and many other plant and animal species most likely won’t be able to migrate fast enough to keep pace with rapidly changing conditions.”

READ THE COMPLETE ARTICLE HERE

So many thanks to my friend Eric Hutchins for forwarding this article!!

Monarch butterflies oyamel trees Abeis religiosa ©Kim Smith 2014 copyOyamel Boughs Enveloped in Monarchs

MONARCH DAY! STARRING THE EAST GLOUCESTER NEIGHBORHOOD GANG

Pilar Monarch Day ©Kim Smith 2015Pilar has started a new fashion trend, Monarchs as hair accessory.

Enchanted by Monarchs!  We had a fantastic day filmmaking, thanks to Emma, Pilar, Frieda, Annie Kate, Lotus, April, Elijah, Esme, Charlie, Atticus, and last but not least, Meadow. And an extra huge thank you to all the moms and dads for not minding the early morning wake up calls and texts to let the kids know the butterflies were emerging! I was tied up filming and so wish I’d taken more stills.

Annie kate, Emma, Pilar Monarch Day ©kim Smith 2015 copyAnnie Kate, Emma, and Pilar

Meadow Monarch Day ©Kim Smith 2015 copy

Meadow

SEE MORE PHOTOS HERE Continue reading “MONARCH DAY! STARRING THE EAST GLOUCESTER NEIGHBORHOOD GANG”

Common Milkweed Abloom, Here, There, and Everywhere!

Common Milkweed and Bee Asclepias syriaca ©Kim Smith 2015A patch of Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) in bloom has a wonderfully sweet honey-hay scent. Look for it growing along the sand dunes, roadside edges, fields, meadows, and where ever there is a neglected patch. And keep your eyes peeled for Monarchs; the earliest arrivals (for the most part) are synchronized to the flowering of Common Milkweed.

Comsos 12 ©Kim Smith 2014 copy

Friend me on Facebook and follow me on TwitterInstagram, and Vine. You can also subscribe to my design website at Kim Smith Designs, and film’s websites at Beauty on the Wing ~ Life Story of the Monarch Butterfly, Gloucester’s Feast of Saint Joseph Community Film Project, and Life Story of the Black Swallowtail Butterfly.

Monarch Butterflies in the News

Monarch Butterflies Goleta Santa Barbara California ©Kim Smith 2015

Monarch Butterflies Goleta Santa Barbara California

Thanks to the Dalpiaz Family and to Passages for forwarding several of the links!

U.S. Government Pledges 3.2 Million Dollars To Save Monarch

40 Years Ago the World ‘Discovered’ Mexico’s Monarch Habitat — Today Its Survival Is at Stake

More monarch butterflies in Mexico, but numbers still low

Journey North

PopulationEstimate_graphic

How Butterflies Self-Medicate

 

Why You Should Worry About The Butterflies

On the second hour of WBUR’s On Point this morning at 11:00am, the show features several outstanding Monarch experts. Here’s the link: http://onpoint.wbur.org/2014/08/20/monarch-butterflies-migration-climate-change

So many thanks to Michele and Jane for letting me know!

“We love butterflies, and monarch butterflies are called “monarch” for a reason.  They are grand.  All that fluttering orange and black display on a winged scale built to impress.  To charm.  But monarch butterflies are in trouble.  This year saw the smallest migration ever recorded to their winter retreat in the mountains of Mexico.  And if you are looking this summer for monarchs, they’ve been hard to find.  There’s a reason, and it goes back to genetically-modified crops, say my guests today.  This hour On Point:  monarch butterflies, beautiful and in trouble.”

– Tom Ashbrook

What We Can Do to Help the Monarchs

Everywhere we turn this past month, there is a report in a major newspaper about the declining Monarch butterfly population. This forwarded from one of our GMG readers: “Monarch butterflies keep disappearing. Here’s why,” was published in the Washington Post on January 29th, 2014.

The author, Brad Plumer, interviewed Dr. Lincoln Brower, a professor of biology at Sweet Briar College and one of the nation’s leading authorities on the subject. I will be meeting Dr. Brower and interviewing him for my film while at the biosphere this month.

One of Dr. Brower’s suggestions on how we can help the Monarchs is along the millions of miles of roadsides in the eastern United States, if we cold get highway departments to plant for pollinators rather than cutting everything down and spraying herbicides. This would be of great help to the Monarchs, insects in general, and many species of birds.

I’ve thought a great deal about this and it is my foremost reason for creating butterfly and habitat gardens, such as the butterfly gardens at the Gloucester HarborWalk. I think too, of the many patches of unused city-owned land dotted about our community and how we could turn these little patches into habitats for all our winged friends. For several years I have wanted very much to organize this project however, I have my hands full with launching the film. Once the film is complete, my hope and plan is that it will become an inspirational and positive educational tool to help generate interest in community projects such as these.

In the meantime, as many of you may be aware, since 2007, I have been creating exhibits and giving lectures about the life story of the Monarch, on the state of butterflies migration, and how we can help the Monarchs, both as individuals and collectively. I purposefully do not publish a price on any of my lecture  listings because the cost of my programs are rated based on the size of your group or organization. No group is too small and I don’t want budget constraints to prohibit making the information available to all who are interested.

Here is a link to my Monarch program. If you and your organization would like to learn more about the Monarch Butterfly and how you can help, please contact me at kimsmithdesigns@hotmail.com.

Monarch Butterflies Gloucester Massachusetts ©Kim Smith 2006Spangled Dawn Eastern Point Gloucester Massachusetts

Recent Posts on GMG about the Monarch Butterfly:

September 2013

Where Are All the Monarchs?

November 2013

The Year the Monarch Didn’t Appear

January 2014

Monarch Butterflies in Crisis

Request for Help from GMG Community and Monarch Film Update

March 2013

How Exactly is Monsanto’s Roundup Ravaging the Monarch Butterfly Population?

To read more about the life story of the Monarch Butterfly type in Monarch in the GMG search box.

 

Where Are All the Monarchs?

Monarchs usually arrive in our region by the first week in July and go through several brood cycles. This year, barely any arrived. The Monarch’s sensitivity to temperature and dependence on milkweed make it vulnerable to environmental changes. Since 1994, U.S. and Mexican researchers have recorded a steady decline in the Monarch population in their overwintering grounds, with 2012-2013 being the lowest recorded to date.

Monarch butterflies daybreak willow tree ©Kim Smith 2012

Temperature change and habitat loss affect breeding success and longevity. Dr. Chip Taylor, a leading Monarch researcher at the University of Kansas reports that the widespread adoption of GMO corn and soybean crops resistant to herbicides, along with with intensive herbicide use, coupled with the federal government’s incentivized expansion of corn and soy acreage for the production of biofuels have caused a significant drop in milkweed throughout the heart of the Monarch’s range. Lack of milkweed equals no Monarchs. “Monarch/milkweed habitat has declined significantly in parallel with the rapid adoption of glyphosate-tolerant corn and soybeans and, since 2006, the rapid expansion of corn and soy acreage to accommodate the production of biofuels,” Taylor wrote on May 29.

Monarch Butterfly Nectaring at Seaside Goldenrod ©Kim Smith 2011

Monarchs Nectaring at Seaside Goldenrod

What can we do? Encourage conservation organizations that conserve Monarch habitat, plant milkweed, plant nectar plants, and raise caterpillars. Hopefully the weather next spring and early summer will be more conducive to the Monarch’s northward migration and breeding success, and if and when the Monarchs arrive, they will find our milkweed plants.

Monarch Butterflies New england Aster ©Kim Smith 2012

Monarch Butterflies Nectaring at New England Asters

If anyone sees a Monarch, please email me at kimsmithdesigns@hotmail.com or leave a comment in the comment section.

Update #2: Reader Jude Writes the following ~

Hi Kim,

I have maybe 30milkweed plants in the front yard. I would be happy to harvest the seeds, are there places you know of that would be willing or have a large enough property to seed them? Can you harvest them as soon as the pods pop? I remember as a kid finding the most beautiful cocoon I have ever seen. I haven’t seen many butterflies at all and of the ones I have seen are not Monarchs.

My reponse:

Hi Jude, I am putting it out there in GMG Land that if anyone would like your milkweed seed pods to please contact me.

Yes, you can harvest immediately after the pods pop, as a matter of fact, I recommend doing just that and sowing your seeds in the fall. The easiest method is to lightly scratch the surface of the soil where you wish the milkweed to grow. Scatter the seeds and water. That’s it.

Thank you so much for writing. Hopefully, we’ll find a home for your milkweed seeds.

Update: For more information, see previous GMG posts on Monarchs and Milkweed:

How Exactly is Monsanto’s Roundup Ravaging the Monarch Butterfly Population?

News Release: MONARCH WATCH ANNOUNCES ‘BRING BACK THE MONARCHS’ CAMPAIGN

Cape Ann Milkweed Project

GloucesterCast Podcast 4/25/13 With Guest Kim Smith

How Exactly is Monsanto’s Roundup Ravaging the Monarch Butterfly Population?

Monarch Butterfiles Female left Male right Milkweed ©Kim Smith 2012The above photo of a male (right) and female (left) Monarch Butterflies on Marsh Milkweed is part of the GMG/Cape Ann Giclee show opening tonight.

I am often asked the following question at my butterfly and pollinator garden design lectures. How exactly are Monsanto’s products ravaging the Monarch Butterfly population?

First, it is important to understand that all butterfly caterpillars rely on plant foods specific to each species of butterfly. For example, Monarch caterpillars only eat members of the milkweed family, Black Swallowtail caterpillars eat plants in the carrot family, and Heliconian butterflies eat plants in the passionflower family. Some caterpillars, like the larvae of the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail eat plants from a wide range of plant families. That being said, it is worth repeating that Monarch caterpillars only survive on members of the milkweed family.

Imagine a farm with row upon row of corn. Growing amongst and around the edges of the cornfields are wildflowers of all sorts, including milkweed. The wildflowers draw to the fields myriad pollinators such as bees, butterflies, and birds.

Monsanto has genetically modified the seed of corn and soybeans so that it will withstand extremely heavy doses of its herbicide, called Roundup. Monsanto’s corn and soybean seed is actually called Roundup Ready. Roundup Ready plants can withstand massive doses of the herbicide Roundup, but the milkweed and other wildflowers growing in the corn and soybean fields cannot.

Each year massive amounts of Roundup are sprayed on the corn and soybean fields, killing everything in sight, except the Roundup Ready corn and soybean. Additionally, Monsanto’s Roundup contains the active ingredient glyphosate, which has been tied to more health and environmental problems than you can possibly imagine.

Now imagine you are a Monarch Butterfly, having flown hundreds of miles northward towards breeding grounds of milkweed. But there is no milkweed to deposit your eggs. The circle in the chain of life is broken.

Since the use of genetically modified Roundup Ready began, milkweed has disappeared from over 100 million acres of row crops, or a roughly 58 percent decrease. Milkweed is not only the Monarch caterpillar host (or food) plant, the nectar-rich florets provide nourishment for hundreds of species of bees and other Lepidoptera.

The Monarch Butterfly migration is one of the great migrations of the world. Climate change and the loss of habitat are also factors in the decrease of butterflies. The Mexican government and the people of Mexico have enacted policies to help protect from logging the remaining oyamel fur trees in the Monarchs winter habitat.

There are several steps that we in the United States can undertake. 1) Avoid as much as possible genetically modified food, especially corn and soybean products. 2) If you own shares of Monsanto stock, get rid of it (Monsanto also developed Agent Orange). Thirdly, we need to start a national movement to cultivate milkweed and to create awareness about the important role wildflowers play in our ecosystem.

Calling Everyone: Plant Milkweed! No matter how small or large your garden, give a spot over to milkweed and watch your garden come to life!

Have Prius–Can Do!

I wrote this post several days ago. Westport was hit very hard by Sandy.

Let’s hope Westport is spared coastal flooding from Hurricane Sandy

This upcoming planting week for my newest project, The Mary Prentiss Inn, a beautiful inn in the heart of Cambridge (more about The Mary Prentiss Inn later) has been disrupted by Sandy. One of the nurseries I work with cancelled delivery and wanted to reschedule, but not until after the 5th of November. By that time I’ll be knee-deep planting Willowdale for the spring of 2013. I didn’t want to disappoint my clients and postpone work until later in November. What to do? Have Prius, will travel.

Much has been written about the super fuel efficiency of the Prius (saving me much, much $$$ over the eight years I have owned a Prius), but rarely do I see mention of it’s fantastic carrying capacity when the back seat is made flat. People look at me in disbelief when I tell them I have transported trees and (smallish) sofas in the back of my Prius so I thought you’d like to see.

125 Boxwood plants, with room to spare in the front passenger seat

Friends often tell me I need a truck or a van. Perhaps when an auto manufacturer designs a 22k truck or van that gets 45 miles to the gallon (when loaded to the max), I’ll consider. In the meantime-have Prius, can do!

Westport is one of the most exquisite New England towns you will ever see. The topography is such that the farmland runs to the ocean’s edge. Through community and conservation groups, Westport is earnestly endeavoring, and succeeding, in preserving its historic and agricultural heritage–as we know in Gloucester, it is very intelligent when communities work together to help protect and preserve their farmers and fishermen.

The Bayside Restaurant ~ Charming little spot to eat in Westport, across the road from Allens Pond Wildlife Sanctuary. The Bayside offers a complete menu, including many delicious seafood entrees and Homemade Pies!

Super Fresh Rhode Island Calamari

You can see why Sylvan is one of my top five nurseries, not only for their exquisite plant stock, but because they are located about a hundred yards down the road from Allens Pond Wildlife Santuary.  In autumn, after the coastal Monarchs depart Cape Ann, they fly south and next congregate in the Westport area, in and around Allen’s Pond and Horseneck Beach.

 Allens Pond ~ Hurry Monarchs and Get Going! October 26, 2012

From the Trustees of Reservations website, “In many towns throughout Massachusetts The Trustees of Reservations have worked in partnership with the state’s Department of Agricultural Resources to help preserve family farms. Nowhere has that work been more successful than in Westport, where the partnership includes the Westport Land Conservation Trust and the town. Together, the groups have protected 13 farms in Westport over the past five years, including two dairy farms, two Christmas tree farms, an organic fruit and vegetable farm, a beef cattle operation, and even a piggery. There are now a total of 28 preserved farms in Westport, encompassing over 2,100 acres.”

Westport, Massachusetts

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