Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter referred to Monarch butterflies as ambassadors to The Americas.
What will today’s leaders do?
On Wednesday, February 19th, Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto, U.S. President Barack Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper are meeting in Toluca, Mexico to discuss such matters as economic competitiveness, trade investment, entrepreneurship and security. A letter to these three leaders has been signed by more than 150 intellectuals, including Nobel literature laureate Orham Pamus, U.S. environmentalist Robert Kennedy Jr. and Canadian author Margaret Atwood, noting that the Monarch population has dropped to the lowest levels since 1993 when recording monarch data began. They are urging the three leaders to devote part of their meeting to discussing ways to protect the Monarch butterfly. (Modesto Bee 02-13-2014)
In my own efforts to advocate for these amazing and near threatened creatures, I penned the poem, A Monarch’s Dream, based on my children’s picture book: AMAZING MATILDA: A Monarch’s Tale.
Find out how you can help protect our Monarch Butterflies at http://makewayformonarchs.org/i/#
The Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) is a milkweed butterfly (subfamily Danainae) in the family Nymphalidae. It is perhaps the best known of all North American butterflies. Since the 19th century, it has been found in New Zealand, and in Australia since 1871, where it is called the wanderer. It is resident in the Canary Islands, the Azores, and Madeira, and is found as an occasional migrant in Western Europe and a rare migrant in the United Kingdom. Its wings feature an easily recognizable orange and black pattern, with a wingspan of 8.9–10.2 cm (3½–4 in). (The viceroy butterfly is similar in color and pattern, but is markedly smaller, and has an extra black stripe across the hind wing.) Female monarchs have darker veins on their wings, and the males have a spot called the androconium in the center of each hind wing. Males are also slightly larger than female monarchs. The Queen is a close relative.
The monarch is famous for its southward late summer/autumn migration from the United States and southern Canada to Mexico and coastal California, and northward return in spring, which occurs over the lifespans of three to four generations of the butterfly. The migration route was fully determined by Canadian entomologists Fred and Norah Urquhart after a 38-year search, aided by naturalists Kenneth C. Brugger and Catalina Trail who solved the final piece of the puzzle by identifying the butterflies’ overwintering sites in Mexico. The discovery has been called the “entomological discovery of the 20th century”. An IMAX film, Flight of the Butterflies, tells the story of the long search by the Urquharts, Brugger and Trail to unlock the secret of the butterflies’ migration. There is evidence that eastern North American populations of the monarch butterfly migrate to south Florida and Cuba.