Monarch Butterfly Research Summaries

research summaries_Geest

Planting Milkweeds

A team of researchers have found that even when homeowners are given offers to help with costs, labor, or resources they still are reluctant to plant milkweeds, in particular Asclepias syriaca. This team also found that while landowners tended to know where to purchase pollinator plants, they had less knowledge on how to care for plants or even how to plant them.

Monarch Migration

A study from Birds Canada, utilized a 25-year dataset to better understand monarch migration timing. The study found consistent timing of migration in Ontario which is vastly different from studies in the Eastern United States that have found shifts in migration timing, potentially due to rising temperatures. This study highlights how migration timing may vary regionally and that there is a need for more regional long-term monitoring across the migratory pathway.

Monarch Rearing

Scientists from Penn State have successfully reared monarchs in laboratory conditions to produce either breeding monarchs (generations 1-3) or fall migratory monarchs (generation 4). Additionally, researchers examined if any differences occurred from feeding monarch larvae native milkweed compared to tropical milkweed, with no difference found between the two food sources.

Monarch Conservation

A study that recently came out in Frontiers in Environmental Science, highlights the challenges and unique opportunities large collaborations can have by focusing on monarch butterfly conservation. The five areas they identified as both challenges and potential opportunities include: funding, team management, team structure, interdisciplinary effectiveness, and credit/rewards.

Monarch Egg-laying

Monarch butterflies don’t change their egg-laying behavior if a milkweed already has eggs from another monarch according to a study from the University of Georgia. This adds to a growing body of work examining how female monarchs choose which plants to lay eggs on.

Monarch Flight

A study from the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, examines monarch butterfly flight using computer models. Butterflies have a unique but complex way of flying and researchers found that by combining a low flapping rate, large but flexible wings, and low wing loading they were able to emulate a flight similar to monarch butterfly movement for over 3 flapping cycles.

Cattle and Milkweed

Cattle grazed milkweeds in Nebraska at the same rate as grasses, suggesting that cattle health and weight are not at odds with increasing milkweeds in pastures. As cattle health is often a high concern for rangeland managers, this study suggests that milkweed is not negatively impacting cattle in the Great Plains.