Category Archives: Environment

Mexican Miracle Monarchs

From Judy Kennedy, March 25, 2021:  This video just in from a good friend of mine.  Not only are the Monarchs a “Mexican miracle” as he called it, but it’s also a double miracle as depicted here through the eyes of Robot Spy Hummingbird.

By the way, once you hit the link below, just play the video as you would any video by clicking on the center of the picture or releasing the pause at the far left.  There is no need to sign up for the special free (ha!) Media extension download to see this video.  Judy K  Judy Marshall Kennedy


Monarch On The Decline

The butterflies covered an area of 2.1 hectares this season, 0.73 less than last winter.

Monarch butterfly numbers down 26%; climate change, logging blamed

World Wildlife Fund says illegal logging has increased in butterfly reserve

Published on Friday, February 26, 2021

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Illegal logging and climate change contributed to a 26% reduction in the number of monarch butterflies overwintering in Mexico in 2020-2021, according to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the National Commission of Natural Protected Areas (Conanp).

Monarchs, which migrate to Mexican annually from Canada and the United States, covered an area of 2.1 hectares in the pine and fir forests of México state and Michoacán in December, a reduction of 0.73 hectares compared to the same month of 2020.

Conanp regional director Gloria Tavera Alonso told a press conference Thursday that nine butterfly colonies were identified – seven in México state and two in Michoacán. That’s a reduction of two compared to last winter when Conanp counted 11 colonies.

WWF México said in a statement that joint studies it carried out with Conanp and the National Autonomous University found that almost 20.3 hectares of forest in the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve were cleared between March 2019 and March 2020. The quantity of deforested land was four times higher than the previous year when five hectares of forest were cleared.

WWF México director Jorge Rickards said the main cause of deforestation in the reserve was illegal logging. The most affected areas were the Cresencio Moralesejido (cooperative) in Michoacán, the area surrounding the community of San Felipe de los Alzati in the same state and indigenous-owned land in the municipality of Nicolás Romero, México state.

Wind and drought were also cited as factors in the degradation of forests.

The WWF statement also said that climate change had a “considerable impact” on the monarch butterfly’s migration process.

“During the spring and summer of 2020 the climatic variations in the south of the United States were not favorable to the flowering of milkweed and the development of eggs and larvae. This limited the reproduction of the population of monarchs, with an impact on the migrant generation, which caused a reduction in the population of this insect in all of North America and as a consequence lower occupation in Mexican forests during their hibernation,” the organization said.

Rickards called on authorities in Mexico, the United States and Canada to work together to seek solutions to the problems monarch butterflies face. He said the insect itself is not at risk of extinction but its migration process is under threat.

Two years ago, monarch butterflies clustered in pine and fir trees covering 6.05 hectares, almost triple the area they covered this year, and in the late 1990s they spread across areas as great as 19 hectares.

However, the area covered by the black and gold-winged insects declined 53% last year and an additional 26% this year. The reduction compared to the winter of 2018-2019 is 65%.


More on Monarchs

This past summer, 2019, my phlox were covered in swallowtails, far more than I’ve seen in the past.  They were mostly dark blue with a few yellow or black and an occasional monarch — all in Annapolis, Maryland.  The elementary school across the street now has a milkweed garden.  Hooray!!!!

Effects of Pesticides on Bird

Audubon Society of Rhode Island

May 28, 2015 ·


So, I was checking my voicemail this morning and there was one from a caller who said that she had her trees sprayed for caterpillars – trees occupied by three …bird feeders – and now, she is upset that there are no birds at all for her to watch. She wonders if the spray could possibly have something to do with it. (Yes, spraying pesticides on your trees will have an effect on the songbirds.) It is not uncommon for us to get inquiries such as these, and it is with great frustration and sadness that we often are faced with educating people after the damage has been done. So, please let me take a moment to reach out to our Facebook friends and family and be proactive about this topic. All pesticides are designed to kill. Some are very targeted, such as B. T. (Bacillus thuringiensis) which primarily affects Lepidopterans (moths and butterflies), but most pesticides are broad and indiscriminate. When you make the choice to treat your house or landscape with rodenticides or grub treatment or mosquito foggers or any other pesticide treatment, you have an intent of ridding yourself of a specific creature that you find distasteful. However, nothing in nature exists in a vacuum. Everything is connected. When you affect one population, it has a ripple effect across the populations that depend upon and coexist with it. When you spray insecticide, for instance, it does not just kill the ‘bugs’ you don’t like, but kills all insects, including honeybees, butterflies and ladybugs. Likewise, when you spray, the insects do not simply disappear off the face of the earth. Many live a short time before they perish. In this time, they may be consumed by natural predators, like songbirds, small mammals and other insects. Pesticides may have a direct toxicity to these animals or may build up in their fat or blood and cause illness or death over time. Even so-called “green” chemicals are still intended to kill, and though they may be derived from natural sources or biodegrade quickly, they are still highly toxic to you and other organisms.
Friends, it is so very important in this day and age, with the steady decline of bird populations and the utter devastation of pollinator populations that we humans take a serious, proactive look at the choices we make and the practices we support – either directly or indirectly. It is vital that we do not go blindly into the world, but make ourselves informed and educated about products and practices and about science, industry and nature. Here at the Audubon Society of Rhode Island, we very much want to help people become educated and able to make informed choices. We are here to answer your questions and point you in the direction of reliable and scientifically accurate information. But we also encourage you to think and question BEFORE you act. Your actions have consequences. Thanks for listening!
(Photo Credit

2016 Bobolink Project Update

Carol Benson shares with us information about the Bobolink Project.  Here is an update to Bobolink Project supporters.

Last year, you were part of the Bobolink Project team that helped protect 549 acres of grasslands in Vermont. With that action you helped an estimated 550 young Bobolinks successfully fledge, and simply put, without your help those Bobolinks would not have survived. The Bobolink Project has demonstrated this can work, and you were part of that success. We can continue to expand on the success of this work, and directly influence the future of nesting grassland birds – but only with your help.

In 2016 we already have 320 acres of land pledged by interested farmers, and we expect to receive more bids from farmers in the next weeks. As in previous years, the amount of land we can protect, and the number of baby Bobolinks we can produce, is directly related to your continued donation.

Here is more on the Bobolink Project.

Monarchs on the Rise


Thanks, Judy Kennedy, for allerting us to this.  Having followed the decline of the Monarch ever since the article submitted to this site by Tom Jegla in 2014, I have continued to look for milkweed and monarchs.  How terrific to get some heartening news.  Here’s the start of the story to whet your appetite.

In this Jan. 4, 2015 file photo, a kaleidoscope of Monarch butterflies cling to tree branches, in the Piedra Herrada sanctuary, near Valle de Bravo, Mexico.

In this Jan. 4, 2015 photo (AP/Rebecca Blackwell), a kaleidoscope of Monarch butterflies cling to tree branches near Valle de Bravo, Mexico.

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Monarch butterflies have made a big comeback in their wintering grounds in Mexico, after suffering serious declines, investigators said Friday, Feb. 26, 2016.

P.S. Just a word from Kim Holmquist in Santa Barbara. “They’ve been arriving here since December.  There is one particular spot they gather and it is pretty impressive. (Though of course our Newcomers trip to the Grove last year was on our one day of rain for the month of January!!)  Also I want to remind those that are thinking of putting in Milkweed:  there are evidently 2 different varieties and one of them is bad for the Monarchs, so be sure to get the right one!”    Ed. Note:  Thanks, Kim! 

Monarch Butterfly

Updated July 18, 2014, sign the petition:

Tom Jegla, the late Dorothy Eldredge Jegla’s husband, sends us this note regarding the serious decline/disappearance of  Monarch butterflies.

“We have preserved milkweeds around our yard and planted them in our gardens for years now and last Fall was the first time I had not seen Monarch caterpillars on our plants since we have owned our farm (over 40 years).  Just last week I sowed more Butterfly Milkweed seeds in Dorothy’s gardens, the front lawn and back yard former garden plots.  In Ohio one sows wildflower seeds on the snow so you can see distribution of the seeds and the freezing and thawing of late window breaks the seed coats for germination as the weather warms.

Help save our milkweed!  Maybe it is too late but I would suggest to all of you to collect Milkweed seeds when you see them and scatter them out in the winter as I just did.  I still have Common Milkweed and Swamp Milkweed seeds that I collected last year and will sow them somewhere on our property (we have 35 acres and it is in a conservation easement but some of it is farmed for crops).  I have been urging people I know to save the milkweed.

I hope it isn’t too late.  I haven’t read the book some people referred to but I have listened to Thom Hartmann on Free Speech TV talk the extinction issue for years now, for whatever good it does.  I would urge any progressives to listen some to Thom Hartmann either on radio or watch Free Speech (a non-commercial channel) on satellite TV.  It is channel 348 on DirecTV.  NPR is too much like the corporate channels for my blood so I don’t tune in but Free Speech and Thom Hartmann are right on for me.”

Editor’s note:  I’ve been looking and asking but I can’t find milkweed seeds.  Locations where I’ve seen them in the past, on the golf course, are now cleaned out.  If you know where I might find them, please let me know.

Chemicals that Kill Bees

Almost 600,000 people have asked Lowe’s and Home Depot to stop selling bee-killing chemicals.   Can you join them now?

The Bobolink Project

Here’s the info Carol Sweeney Benson sent to Dee Deferranti Abrahamse (because she lives in VT briefly every year) about the Bobolink Project.   It’s something she is committed to and reminds us all that the pledge deadline is April 21st.   Be sure to check out the history.
Update 5/10/14

Carol Benson sends “the highlights of the results of the 2014 Bobolink Project.  And, of course, it is not just the little Bobolinks that are protected.  Other animals, birds, and plants are helped.  And, bees because they eat the pollen from the blooming part of the plant cycle”

We have been very successful this year… ,we are able to cover at least 340 acres in Vermont this year (2014).  Of course, covering this acreage depends critically on everyone paying his or her pledges quickly.  We really need you to do so as soon as possible, and by May 20 would be best.  This assures us of getting all the farm contract commitments settled.

Finally … we will cover 340 acres this year, there is some chance some farms will contribute additional acres voluntarily.  This did happen last year.  We will be updating FaceBook if something significant happens …  Future fundraising will depend more heavily on “word of mouth,” so that we hope you’ll keep the Bobolink Project in mind for future years and discuss it with your friends.

Sincerely,  Stephen Swallow,  Dept of Agricultural and Resource Economics,  
1376 Storrs Road, Unit 4021,  
Storrs, CT 06269-4021
, Phone: 860-486-1917