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Drone Disguised as Hummingbird Captures Incredible Footage of Monarch Butterfly Swarm

fstoppers.com

Drone Disguised as Hummingbird Captures Incredible Footage of Monarch Butterfly Swarm by Usman Dawood 2-3 minutes Usman Dawood’s picture It’s not very often that I watch a video online and react by literally gasping and audibly saying “wow.” Watching Captain America stare down Thanos and his whole army, in an IMAX cinema, on a huge screen, was the last time I reacted in such a way. This time, even without the huge screen, resolution, and quality, this video is simply incredible. In a recent video from Nature on PBS, you’ll be able to get super close to resting Monarch Butterflies. As they wait for the temperature to rise, they huddle together to keep warm. Without disturbing any of the butterflies, they’ve managed to take close-up footage of the butterflies. The way they’ve managed to do this is by disguising a drone to look like a Hummingbird. As described in the video, hummingbirds are not a threat to the monarch butterflies, and for that reason they don’t react to it at all. Once the temperature rises sufficiently the butterflies take flight and the scene is simply magical. The butterflies are able to comfortably fly around and even land on the drone without being hurt. This is because the drone has been designed in a way to ensure it cannot harm the butterflies. As the narrator explains in the video, the drones moving parts have been shielded to keep them safe. This is precisely the kind of content I needed during this time and I’m very happy to have witnessed such beauty; even if it is just on a screen in my home. Usman Dawood is a professional architectural photographer based in the UK.

https://fstoppers.com/



documentary/drone-disguised-hummingbird-captures-incredible-footage-monarch-butterfly-swarm-480714

Scientists scramble to learn why monarch butterflies are dying so quickly

EVANSVILLE, Ind., July 22 (UPI) — Scientists across the country are scrambling to understand why monarch butterflies are disappearing at such an alarming rate as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service considers listing the butterfly as endangered.

North America’s largest population of monarchs, which migrate between Mexico and the Midwest, has fallen 80 percent, from a billion in the 1990s to 200 million in 2018.

A smaller monarch population in the western United States that migrates between California and the Pacific Northwest is disappearing even faster, dropping from 1.2 million in the 1990s to just 30,000 last year — a 98 percent drop.

“That is a catastrophic decline,” said Tierra Curry, a senior scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity, which is based in Arizona. “They might not be able to bounce back.”

Faced with those numbers, the Fish and Wildlife Service is several years into a massive review of North America’s butterflies to determine if they qualify for federal protection under the Endangered Species Act.

“We have a species status assessment team that is modeling threat evaluations,” said Georgia Parham, a spokeswoman for the Fish and Wildlife Service’s Midwest office, which is leading the review.

“We’re are also soliciting evaluations from monarch experts, and we’ve also launched a monarch database that anyone can enter information into,” Parham said.

The agency plans to announce its findings in December 2020.

But many scientists say conservation efforts cannot wait that long. Groups like the Center for Biological Diversity, which petitioned the service to list the monarchs as endangered in 2014, and the Monarch Joint Venture are spearheading conservation programs based on the latest available science.

That science, they are quick to admit, is incomplete.

Scientists cannot say for certain why monarchs are dying. Several unrelated phenomena could be killing them.

“There are several hypotheses for the decline, all of which are probably contributing to some degree,” said Andrew Myers, a doctoral student at Michigan State University’s Department of Entomology who studies monarchs.

Finding precise causes are difficult, in part because monarchs are migratory insects.

They clump together on tree branches in the mountains of Mexico to hibernate during the winter — turning those forests orange. When it warms, they fly north to lay their eggs on milkweed plants growing throughout the Midwest.

They can then travel as far north as Canada in search of the nectar from flowering plants. And when the weather turns cold, they return to Mexico.

Climate change might be disrupting their long migrations, Meyers said. Urban sprawl could be choking out flowering plants. And the Mexican forests in which the insects overwinter are being logged, which undoubtedly is a threat to their survival.

“Any one of those things is enough to wipe out the monarch population,” Curry said.

But the timing of the eastern population’s decline could be the most telling, she said, because it seemed to begin around the same time as the first herbicide-resistant crops were introduced to U.S. agriculture.

These crops were genetically engineered to survive the application of certain herbicides, allowing farmers to spray those chemicals on their fields and kill off other plants without harming their crops.

One of the plants these herbicides are especially effective at killing is milkweed — the sole food monarch butterfly larvae can eat.

“What happens to milkweed in the Midwest is incredibly important to the monarch population,” said Ian Kaplan, a professor of entomology at Purdue University.

Researchers at Iowa State University and the University of Minnesota in 2013 estimated nearly 60 percent of the milkweed had disappeared from the Midwest landscape since 1999. That decline coincides with an increase in herbicide resistant crops.

Monsanto introduced the first herbicide-resistant soybean plant, called RoundUp Ready soybean, in 1996, followed by a RoundUp Ready corn in 1998. Today, about 90 percent of the corn and 94 percent of the soybeans grown in the U.S. are herbicide resistant, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

“The monarch butterfly did fine in croplands before RoundUp Ready crops,” Curry said. “That allowed more RoundUp to be sprayed, and that killed more milkweed in agricultural fields.”

Many of the monarch conservation efforts revolve around planting more native milkweed in public spaces, parks, private lands and on the edges of agricultural fields in hopes those plants replace those lost to agriculture.

But it is unclear how big of an impact that is having because scientists still don’t understand how other factors — like pesticide use — contribute to the insects’ decline.

With that in mind, entomologists like Kaplan are devising new studies every year to obtain a more detailed picture of what is happening to monarch larvae in their shrinking habitat.

Kaplan recently conducted a study at Purdue that measured the volume of pesticides present on wild milkweed growing near Midwestern agricultural fields.

“In Indiana, it’s hard to get very far from a corn field,” Kaplan said.

His study found pesticides on wild milkweed throughout Indiana, and although the amount tended to decline the farther from an agricultural field the researchers got, they still found pesticides on milkweed plants more than a mile away.

“Some of these pesticides are very hard to escape from,” Kaplan said.

Kaplan is now studying the impact the various pesticides he found on native plants have on the monarch larvae. He hopes to complete that study sometime this fall.

Elsewhere, researchers at Michigan State University are looking at monarch larvae predators, like lady beetles, ants and spiders.

“Since monarchs have lost their milkweed host plants in agricultural fields, they are now relegated to milkweed growing in grasslands in places like roadsides, fallow fields and agricultural field edges,” Meyers said.

“These areas have more diverse and abundant communities of predators, which results in naturally low survival of monarch eggs and caterpillars to adulthood. I am trying to determine which predators contribute most to monarch egg and caterpillar mortality and specific ways that these interactions take place,” he said.

“The work could eventually lead to grassland management practices that reduce predation pressure on monarchs.”

More work needs to be done, scientists say, but it is possible early conservation efforts are yielding results.

Last year, for this first time since scientists started tracking the butterfly more than 20 years ago, the eastern Monarch’s population increased.

It is impossible to know if that was because of efforts to plant more milkweed in the Midwest, or if other unrelated conditions helped the insect.

“We’re waiting to see if it is a trend, or a one-year thing,” the Fish and Wildlife Services’ Parham said.

But researchers and conservationists are pushing ahead.

“People can help right now by planting native milkweed,” Curry said. “That’s only one of the problems. It’s milkweed loss, it’s urban sprawl, it’s climate change, it’s insecticide use. It sounds really big and overwhelming, but we have to start somewhere.”

https://www.upi.com/Top_News/US/2019/07/22/Scientists-scramble-to-learn-why-monarch-butterflies-are-dying-so-quickly/6961563481223/

Mass Migration of Painted Lady Butterflies Entrances Californians

Image
Painted lady butterflies landing on a cherry tree as they migrated north through Encinitas, Calif.CreditCreditMike Blake/Reuters

Swarms of any other insect might provoke fears of a coming apocalypse, but clouds of butterflies migrating through Southern California are captivating onlookers who are relishing the otherworldly spectacle.

The orange butterflies, called painted ladies, are known to travel annually from the deserts of Southern California to the Pacific Northwest. This month, people are taking notice because of the sheer size of the migration: Scientists estimate the teeming painted ladies number in the millions.

Substantial rainfall in the deserts near the Mexican border, where the North American painted ladies lay their eggs, is the reason for the unusually large swarms. The rain caused plants to thrive, giving the painted lady caterpillars plenty of food to fuel their transformation, said Arthur M. Shapiro, a professor of evolution and ecology at the University of California, Davis.

To human observers, the painted ladies move with speed and intention, as if they have somewhere to be. They can fly as fast as 25 miles per hour.

“The striking thing is they’re moving very rapidly and directionally,” said Professor Shapiro, who has studied butterfly migrations in California for more than 40 years. “So it’s almost like being in a hail of bullets.”

They tend not to veer from oncoming cars, which can prove troublesome in Los Angeles traffic. When the painted ladies smash into a windshield, the result is a glob of yellow, butter-like ooze. That’s the result of the butterfly’s stored fat, used to make the long journey north, Professor Shapiro said.

Monika Moore, a butterfly enthusiast who lives in Fullerton, Calif., said she noticed that the mass moves in a strange way. The butterflies will fly low to the ground in an open field or yard, but when they encounter a tall building, they will fly over it — creating a “funky” up-and-down dipping pattern, said Ms. Moore, who has a Facebook page called California Butterfly Lady.

“They’re in a hurry, like the rabbit in ‘Alice in Wonderland,’” she said. “They have a very important date.”

This year, the painted lady migration in California appears to have veered off its customary course. Professor Shapiro said that if the painted ladies were following their annual pattern, they should have arrived in Northern California about a week ago, yet they appear to be staying in Southern California.

One possible explanation, Professor Shapiro said, is that there has been such abundant rain and plant growth in Southern California that the butterflies have settled down and reproduced there.

Professor Shapiro reported on Sunday evening that he had seen nine painted ladies near where he lives in the Northern California.

“Presumably these are the vanguard,” he wrote in an email. “We’re off and running.”

The explosion of plant growth in Southern California that has fueled this migration of butterflies is in itself a spectacle. The growth of colorful wildflowers, called a super bloom, has attracted a steady stream of tourists. In 2017, wildflower blooms in Southern California were so dense that they were visible from space.

[One of our reporters visited Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, a site of the super bloom.]

Substantial rainfall in the deserts near the Mexico border, where the North American painted ladies lay their eggs, has fueled this year’s unusually large swarms.CreditJohn Francis Peters for The New York Times

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Substantial rainfall in the deserts near the Mexico border, where the North American painted ladies lay their eggs, has fueled this year’s unusually large swarms.CreditJohn Francis Peters for The New York Times

Although this year’s butterfly migration is significant, it pales in comparison with the swarms of 2005. That year, scientists estimated more than a billion butterflies traveled across California. Cars on California highways looked as if they had been splattered with raw eggs.

As the painted ladies linger in the southern part of the state, Californians are getting a prolonged look at the clouds of flapping orange wings.

On an overcast day last week, Jessica McGhee biked to the waterfront in Redondo Beach to collect plastics to use to make art. Ms. McGhee said she saw a couple of butterflies flit by, then a few more. Soon they flew by in the dozens, and then in the hundreds.

“I felt like I was in a Disney movie”

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/17/us/migrating-painted-lady-butterflies.html#click=https://t.co/M2DBSnEFPM

Sign Petition: Trump Wants to Plow Down a Butterfly Sanctuary Crucial to Monarchs for His Border Wall

thepetitionsite.com
by: Care2 Team
recipient: Congress

13,867 SUPPORTERS – 14,000 GOAL

Who’s the latest casualty of Trump’s horrendous war on asylum-seekers at the U.S.-Mexico border? Butterflies.

That’s right, his already stupid border wall idea is now projected to plow down a butterfly sancutary! Please sign this petition to save the butterflies!

Is nothing sacred anymore? The Supreme Court just upheld a ruling saying that Trump can bypass 28 federal laws (including the Endangered Species Act, the Safe Drinking Water Act, and the Clean Air Act) for his ridiculous border wall.

The butterfly sanctuary is home to 200 species of butterlies. Plus, the sanctuary serves as a crucial stopping place during migration for the “King of Butterflies,” the Monarch butterfly, which is in so much danger right now thanks to human pollution. The wall would literally require bulldozing most of this land and splitting the rest up, not allowing the sanctuary to grow new plants that are required to save the butterflies. The wall would even be too high for some birds and butterflies to get over, thus cutting them off completely!

As for the human effect in this specific area in Texas, there would be extreme flooding and humans would be cut off from their water supplies.

We are living in a nightmare world and we won’t get to wake up without intense activism.

Please add your voice to this call for some kindness, reason and a check on an administration that is running amuck with anti-science, anti-environment and anti-wildlife policies and rhetoric. Congress doesn’t have to fund the dumb wall — that’s why every American must tell their representative to say no on what could be one of the silliest solutions to a non-existent problem ever to be brought to the floor (and that’s saying something).

Sign this petition to tell Congress that these beautiful and endangered butterflies are just the latest reason NOT to build a dang wall.

https://www.thepetitionsite.com/takeaction/658/587/246/

 

PETITION| Save the monarch butterfly!

https://go.saveanimalsfacingextinction.org/page/s/Save-Monarch-Butterfly?source=MS_EM_FR_2018.10.03_B2_Save-Monarch-Butterflies_X__F1_S1_C1__all

Monarch Butterfly Population Drops 80 Percent Since Mid-1990s | Global Justice Ecology Project


WASHINGTON— The annual overwintering count of monarch butterflies released last week confirms butterfly numbers fell by nearly one-third from last year’s count, indicating an ongoing risk of extinction for America’s most well-known butterfly. Scientists report that this year’s population is down by 27 percent from last year’s count, and down by more than 80 percent from the mid-1990s. This year’s drastic decline is attributed in part to more extreme winter storms that killed millions of monarchs last March in Mexico’s mountain forests, where 99 percent of the world’s monarchs migrate for the winter.
“The monarch butterfly is still in really big trouble and still needs really big help if we’re going to save this beloved orange-and-black wonder for future generations,” said Tierra Curry, a senior scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity.

A recent study by the U.S. Geological Survey concluded that there is a substantial probability that monarch butterflies east of the Rockies could decline to such low levels that they face extinction. Researchers estimate the probability that the monarch migration could collapse within the next 20 years is between 11 percent and 57 percent.
“In addition to threats from more frequent and harsher weather events, monarchs are still severely jeopardized by the ever-increasing pesticides used with genetically-engineered crops, destroying their habitat,” said George Kimbrell, senior attorney at the Center for Food Safety. “We will continue to do everything we can to ensure monarchs have a future.”

The butterfly’s dramatic decline has been driven in large part by the widespread planting of genetically engineered crops. The vast majority of U.S. corn and soybeans are genetically engineered for resistance to Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide, a potent killer of milkweed, the monarch caterpillar’s only food. The dramatic surge in the use of Roundup and other herbicides with the same active ingredient (glyphosate) on Roundup Ready crops has virtually wiped out milkweed plants in the Midwest’s corn and soybean fields.

In the past 20 years, scientists estimate, 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. Logging on the monarch’s Mexican wintering grounds is also an ongoing concern. Scientists have also identified threats to the monarch during the fall migration including lack of nectaring habitat and insecticides.

Background
Found throughout the United States during summer months, most monarchs from east of the Rockies winter in the mountains of central Mexico, where they form tight clusters on trees. Scientists from World Wildlife Fund Mexico estimate the population size by counting the number of hectares of trees covered by monarchs. Monarchs need a very large population size to be resilient to threats from severe weather events, pesticides, climate change, disease and predation. A single winter storm in 2002 killed an estimated 500 million monarchs, roughly five times the size of the current population.

Concerns over the extinction risk of the monarch led the Center for Biological Diversity, the Center for Food Safety, the Xerces Society and renowned monarch scientist Dr. Lincoln Brower to petition the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 2014 to protect the butterfly as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. The Service is now conducting a review of its status and must decide on protection by 2019. In Canada, the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife has recommended that the Canadian government list the monarch as an endangered species. Monarch butterfly migration is now recognized as a “threatened process” by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.

Copyright © 2017 · All Rights Reserved · Global Justice Ecology Project

Mexico, Canada, and the US created a “flyway” to save the Monarch butterfly, and it’s working — Quartz


http://qz.com/721657/mexico-canada-and-the-us-created-a-flyway-to-save-the-monarch-butterfly-and-its-working/

Save Threatened Butterfly Species

A ruinous tree disease has nearly wiped out the only habitat for a rare species of butterfly in the United Kingdom. Urge the government to intervene and save these valuable creatures.

Source: Save Threatened Butterfly Species

Stop Killing Monarch Butterflies

Monarch butterflies are being killed by the EPA because the agency allows farmers to use herbicides and insecticides that are wiping out monarch butterfly populations. Ban these herbicides and insecticides today.

Source: Stop Killing Monarch Butterflies

After 90 Percent Decline, Federal Protection Sought for Monarch Butterfly

After 90 Percent Decline, Federal Protection Sought for Monarch Butterfly.