The Plants the Help Monarchs Also Help Honey Bees

CATCH THE BUZZ  By Candace Fallon   December 15, 2016

Candace Fallon
Senior Conservation Biologist
Endangered Species Program


Monarchs are in decline across North America. With milkweed loss in the east identified as a major contributing factor to this decline, the national call to action has understandably focused primarily on planting milkweeds, which are the required host plants for monarch caterpillars, and a favorite for honey bees, too. Yet while restoring the millions of milkweed plants that have been lost is certainly an important strategy, monarchs need more than milkweed to support them throughout the year. Adult monarchs need nectar to fuel them during spring migration and breeding and to build up stores of fat which sustain them during fall migration and winter.

There are many sources of information about which species of native milkweeds are best for your region, but information on which nectar plants are best for monarchs has not been available for large areas of the U.S. Working with the Monarch Joint Venture and the National Wildlife Federation, the Xerces Society has created a series of nectar plant lists for the continental U.S. based on a database of nearly 24,000 monarch nectaring observations. Each of the 15 regional guides highlights species that are commercially available, are native to and widely found in the region, and are known to be hardy or relatively easy to grow in a garden setting.

Read more about this project at http://www.xerces.org/blog/to-save-monarchs-we-need-more-than-just-milkweed/  or find a nectar plant guide for your region herehttp://www.xerces.org/monarch-nectar-plants/

These plant lists are works-in-progress and benefit from your help. You can submit additional monarch nectaring observations via our online survey. We are grateful to the many different researchers and monarch enthusiasts across the country who have already contributed to our database – thank you! 

To Save Monarchs We Need More Than Just Milkweed

Xerces Society  By Candace Fallon   December 7, 2016

Candace Fallon
Senior Conservation Biologist
Endangered Species Program

Tall blazing star (Liatris aspera) was the plant with the most records of nectaring 
monarchs of any plant in the database. (Photo: Joshua Mayer/Flickr) 

The message is out: Monarchs are in decline across North America. The loss of milkweed plants due to extensive herbicide use and changes in farming practices, such as the widespread adoption of herbicide-resistant crops, has been identified as a major contributing factor of monarch’s decline in the eastern U.S. Disease, climate change, widespread insecticide use, and loss or degradation of nectar-rich habitat may also be contributing to declines. A memorandum issued by President Obama and subsequent U.S. national strategy to protect monarchs and other pollinators, in addition to a recent petition to list monarchs under the Endangered Species Act, has highlighted their plight and led to a surge of interest in protecting these amazing animals and their phenomenal fall migration.

The national call to action has focused primarily on planting milkweeds, which are the required host plants for monarch caterpillars, a simple and effective way to support monarch conservation. However, it is important to remember that milkweed may not be appropriate in every landscape. For example, we do not recommend planting milkweed in areas such as coastal California, where it did not historically occur.

While restoring the millions of milkweed plants that have been lost is certainly an important strategy, monarchs need more than milkweed to support them throughout the year. Adult monarchs need nectar to fuel them during spring migration and breeding and to build up stores of fat which sustain them during fall migration and winter. Too few nectar plants in the landscape may reduce the number of monarchs that successfully arrive at overwintering sites in the fall.

There are many sources of information about which species of native milkweeds are best for your region (including from the Xerces Society), but information on which nectar plants are best for monarchs has not been available for large areas of the U.S. To address this need, the Xerces Society has created a series of nectar plant lists based on a database of monarch nectaring observations compiled from a wide variety of sources, including published and technical reports, research datasets, and personal communications with monarch researchers, lepidopterists, botanists, and other experts. This database now houses nearly 24,000 reported monarch nectaring observations on 358 native plant species.

Working with the Monarch Joint Venture and the National Wildlife Federation, the Xerces Society used this database to develop monarch nectar plant guides for all regions of the continental U.S.  Each of the 15 guides highlights species that are commercially available, are native to and widely found in the region, and are known to be hardy or relatively easy to grow in a garden setting—although, as with any plant choice, we encourage you to use additional references when making final species determinations for your location. 

 

 Second place in the “Nectar Plant Top 10” went to bearded beggarticks (Bidens aristosa),
which is native in eastern and central North America. It blooms in late summer,
just in time for the monarchs fall migration. (Photo: Dennis Burnette) 

Whenever possible, we included species that were reported by multiple sources or were noted to be exceptional monarch magnets. Each list is also tailored to include only species that bloom during the times of year that monarchs are expected to be in each region. Only native species were included. (These plant lists were compiled using the best available data, but we expect to update them as new information is available. You can help us improve them by submitting your own monarch nectaring observations via our online survey.)

These guides are geared toward gardeners and landscape designers but will also be useful for land managers who are undertaking large-scale monarch restoration projects. And importantly, the plants on these lists will attract not only monarchs but also many other pollinators, from butterflies and moths to bees and hummingbirds.

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Nectar Plant Top 10: The ten flowers in this table are those with the greatest number of recorded observations of nectaring monarchs—but be sure to check the nectar plant list for your region to find out which plants are the best for where you live!

http://www.xerces.org/blog/to-save-monarchs-we-need-more-than-just-milkweed/

Don't Kill The Caterpillar!

Pollinator Partnership: "Our second sighting of a future monarch butterfly! If you plant it, they will come. Thanks for supporting our monarch habitat research. Find out what you can do: http://bit.ly/1vd2ZmI

Don't Kill the Caterpillar! That striped caterpillar chomping on your milkweed will soon be a beautiful Monarch butterfly. Monarchs cannot survive without milkweed; their caterpillars only eat milkweed plants (Asclepias spp.), and monarch butterflies need milkweed to lay their eggs. With shifting land management practices, we have lost much milkweed from the landscape.

Genetic Secrets of the Monarch Butterfly Revealed

Science Daily   Source: University of Chicago Medical Center   October 1, 2014

The monarch butterfly is one of the most iconic insects in the world, best known for its distinct orange and black wings and a spectacular annual mass migration across North America. However, little has been known about the genes that underlie these famous traits, even as the insect's storied migration appears to be in peril.

Sequencing the genomes of monarch butterflies from around the world, a team of scientists has now made surprising new insights into the monarch's genetics. They identified a single gene that appears central to migration -- a behavior generally regarded as complex -- and another that controls pigmentation. The researchers also shed light on the evolutionary origins of the monarch. They report their findings Oct. 1 in Nature.

"The results of this study shift our whole thinking about these butterflies...

Read more... http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/10/141001133012.htm

The Xerces Society: After 90% Decline Federal Protection Sought for Monarch Butterfly

The Xerces Society    August 27, 2014

Genetically Engineered Crops Are Major Driver in Population Crash

WASHINGTON— The Center for Biological Diversity and Center for Food Safety as co-lead petitioners joined by the Xerces Society and renowned monarch scientist Dr. Lincoln Brower filed a legal petition today to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service seeking Endangered Species Act protection for monarch butterflies, which have declined by more than 90 percent in under 20 years. During the same period it is estimated that these once-common iconic orange and black butterflies may have lost more than 165 million acres of habitat — an area about the size of Texas — including nearly a third of their summer breeding grounds.

“Monarchs are in a deadly free fall and the threats they face are now so large in scale that Endangered Species Act protection is needed sooner rather than later, while there is still time to...

Read more...  http://www.xerces.org/after-90-percent-decline-federal-protection-sought-for-monarch-butterfly-2/

Saving the Monarchs

Bug Squad - Happenings in the insect world      By Kathy Keatley Garvey    August 26, 2014

The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation issued news today that is both disturbing and hopeful.

Disturbing in that the monarch butterfly population (Danaus plexippus) has declined by more than 90 percent in under 20 years.

Hopeful in that the monarch may receive federal protection through the Endangered Species Act.

The Xerces Society, the Center for Biological Diversity,  the...

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Do Bees Freak You Out? Well President Obama Wants to Keep Them Around

The Washington Post    By Juliet Eilperin   June 23, 2013 

Not many White House fact sheets mention honeybees and Monarch butterflies. But one issued on Friday talked about them in detail, explaining why President Obama had signed a memorandum establishing the first-ever federal pollinator strategy.

The memo creates a new inter-agency task force charged with developing a federal strategy to protect pollinators, which aims to stave off the declinesthat pollinators such as honeybees, butterflies and bats have suffered in recent years. Obama instructed all federal agencies to use their powers "to broadly advance honey bee and other pollinator health and habitat," and the Agriculture Department announced $8 million in incentives to farmers and ranchers in five states who establish new habitats for honeybees.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Friday "there is a clear economic incentive for us" to protect pollinators because the crops they pollinate "have an impact of about $24 billion a year on the United States economy."

"And we’re going to continue to work in collaborative fashion with industry, with state and local leaders, with private landowners to address this problem," Earnest said,

In fact, one-third of our food supply--the fruits, vegetables and nuts we eat--are pollinated by bees. But the current U.S. honeybee population is now less than half of what it was in 1945.

The president's interest in pollinators is not simply economic, however: he has raised the issue with some of his top aides. White House senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer said in an interview this spring with Politico's Mike Allen that Obama had mentioned an article to him that had to do with "the disappearing bees and the fact this is an issue that there are fewer bees, and this has to do with climate change."

And the White House senior adviser for nutrition policy Sam Kass--who also cooks dinner for the Obama family most weeknights--has also discussed the issue in depth with the president. It's one of the reasons the White House vegetable garden expanded to include a pollinator's garden this year.

And if the Democrats have their way, Washington will have one more high-profile bee advocate after the mid-term elections: Michael Eggman, who is hoping to unseat Rep. Jeff Denham (R-Calif.). Eggman, a third-generation beekeeper and self-described member of the "beekeeper mafia," praised the administration for taking on the issue, "although until this point, not enough has been done."

"Colony Collapse Disorder appears to be a crisis with multiple factors including pesticide use and catastrophic climate change," Eggman said in a statement. "I am hopeful that the administration will carefully examine all possible causes and all potential solutions."

In other words, if you're rooting for bees to disappear, you might want to reassess. There are people in high places who are on their side.

Read at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-fix/wp/2014/06/23/do-bees-freak-you-out-well-president-obama-wants-to-keep-them-around/

Related: We all get stung by bee colony collapse

Got Milk (Weed) for the Bees?

Bug Squad - Happenings in the Insect World   By Kathy Keatley Garvey    May 29, 2014

Folks are planting milkweed for the monarchs.

The milkweed (genus Asclepias) is the host plant (larval food) for the monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus). No wonder the monarch is sometimes called "the milkweed butterfly."

The perennial plant is so named for its milky juice, consisting of a latex containing alkaloids and other complex compounds. Carl Linnaeus named the genus for the Greek god of healing, Asciepius.

But...

Read More...

Visit the Kathy Keatley Garvey Bug Squad blog at: http://ucanr.org/blogs/bugsquad/