What is affecting the Monarch Butterfly in the US?

As stated in my previous posts (links are below), there are many factors causing a rapid decline in the Monarch Butterfly population. Logging of their caterpillar2wintering sites in Mexico continues to be a major factor as well as diversion of water sources. What are the factors that are contributing to the decline in the United States? The Monarch caterpillar only feeds on one plant, the Milkweed. As with any animal that solely relies on one food source, this puts it at great risk. Of course the more homes we build in wild areas, the more milkweed is destroyed. However, there seems to be another culprit in the Monarch Butterfly demise – GMO-corn. I certainly would like to follow up on this research and if I find anything contrary or further supporting, I will amend this post, but in a study published in the journal Nature May 20, 1999, (a top tier scientific journal and the feather in any researcher’s cap), and reported in the Cornell News, the pollen from BT-corn (corn carrying a gene from the bacterium, Bacillus thuringiensis which makes it resistant to the European corn borer) kills Monarch caterpillars in a research study.

In the laboratory tests, monarchs fed milkweed leaves dusted with so-called transformed pollen from a Bt-corn hybrid ate less, grew more slowly and suffered a higher mortality rate, the researchers report. Nearly half of these larvae died, while all of the monarch caterpillars fed leaves dusted with nontransformed corn pollen or fed leaves without corn pollen survived the study.

The toxin in the transformed pollen, the researchers say, goes into the gut of the caterpillar, where it binds to specific sites. When the toxin binds, the gut wall changes from a protective layer to an open sieve so that pathogens usually kept within the gut and excreted are released into the insect’s body. As a result, the caterpillar quickly sickens and dies.

The butterflies overwinter in Mexico and by the spring begin migrating north. The first generation of the year crosses into Texas, other Gulf Coast states and Florida, seeking milkweed on which to lay their eggs and feed. By late May or early June, the second generation of adults has emerged and heads north to areas including the Midwest Corn Belt. Monarch caterpillars are feeding on milkweed during the period when corn is shedding pollen, Losey says. Thus “they may be in the right place at the right time to be exposed to Bt-corn pollen.”

As in everything, it comes down to a battle between what is good (or perceived good) for humans and what is good for the environment. It is even more imperative that we give Monarch butterflies safe-alternative locations to lay their eggs away from corn fields! Please consider planting milkweed in your yard!! Plants start shipping in May! See my blog posts below to find out where to purchase milkweed.

You can find my other blog posts about Monarch butterflies here.
How to Raise Monarch Butterflies Part 1

How to  Raise Monarch Butterflies Part 2

First Hand Account of the Plight of the Monarch Butterfly

Healthy Families

Words Of Encouragement

This is an inspirational story that any parent should read…

One of the best benefits of learning how to eat to fuel my body, as a mom, was learning what a healthy plate looks like. At Tony Horton Fitness Camps in the days of old, Tony used to talk about the important fuels for your body: lean protein, healthy fats, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.

family-84865_640When we first started on this health and fitness journey, I cleaned out all my cupboards and fridge of the bad stuff that I’d allowed to creep in, and replaced it with the healthy stuff listed in my new food journal provided with the Team Beachbody Club. That was a big deal for me, because it was a commitment with my pocketbook! I used the expression “Say no to yourself once: at the grocery store!” that I’d learned from another member in my Beachbody Challenge Group. That saying made sense to me, and I wanted to teach my kids the same thing. Rather than me having m&m’s in a bag that they ask me for 10 times throughout the day, not even having them on the shelves was a few less “no”’s I had to tell my kids. It helped me get creative in making the snacks fun, and the meals tasty!

My kids really resisted at first. Well, the older ones. They were grumpy that the junk food they’d grown accustomed to were no longer an option. Oh, I’m all about moderation, and they still had desserts, and sweet foods, but I changed their options for the more healthy counterparts: Fat free yogurt instead of go-gurts, lime Perrier (“bubble water”) in place of soda, thin crust, light cheese & veggie pizza instead of the thick crust, oozing cheese pepperoni pizza’s of old. We had tons of different fruits, and instead of calorie laden casserole’s we had grilled chicken, lots of veggies and instead of white rice, we had whole grain rice and quinoa and bulgar. Havent tried em? Neither had I until I found the Beachbody Club and then I was hooked on these new flavors! In fact, my kids actually (and this is the truth!) used to say “Brussel Sprouts? Yay! Thanks Mom!” It sounds so fake and cheeseball, but they really love brussel sprouts – a veggie I’d never made before then. Because the truth is, healthy foods DO taste good, and its possible to re-train our habits and taste buds.

Oh, we still have soda, and ice cream every now and again, just not every day or week, and you know what? My kids are healthy, strong, and adjusted. So be encouraged if you are just starting on your journey to a healthier family – with time and consistency, and open, honest communication, ie: “I cant in good conscience give to you what I know now to be so unhealthy for you, son.” your kids WILL adjust and when they’re adults they’ll thank you. When they do, you can pat yourself on the back knowing you did the hard, but right thing by your family!