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Good Bug Corner-Monarch Butterfly (07/30/15)

This week’s Good Bug Corner featured insects are the Monarch butterfly in the insect family Nymphalidae.

Good Bug Corner-Monarch Butterfly

This week’s Good Bug Corner featured insects are the Monarch butterfly in the insect family Nymphalidae. These beautiful butterflies are important pollinators, and well known for their 6,000 miles roundtrip migration from their overwintering home in Mexico to summer homes in North America. The butterfly feeds on nectar from flowers while the caterpillar feeds exclusively on the milkweed plant. Populations of the Monarch butterfly have significantly decline over the past years, and 2013-2014 recorded the lowest number of Monarch butterflies ever observed during migration. Some of the threats to the Monarch butterfly are:  habitat destruction of overwintering and resting sites, such as urban sprawl reducing crucial habitat of flowering fields; pesticides including insecticides that are used to control field crop insects and herbicides that kill milkweed and other wild flowering plant species; and adverse climate conditions which impact its development and survival. There is a nationwide effort to protect and increase populations of the Monarch butterfly and other pollinators through enhancing or restoring 7 million acres of land for pollinator over the next 5 years. Planting a butterfly garden is a good way to help conserve the Monarch butterfly. See the NDSU Extension fact sheet on Butterfly Gardening.

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Janet J. Knodel

Extension Entomologist

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