Environmental Outlook: The Shrinking Monarch Butterfly Population

Environmental Outlook: The Shrinking Monarch Butterfly Population

As Monarch butterflies head south for the winter, scientists fear their numbers might have dropped to new lows. In this month’s Environmental Outlook we discuss the mystery of Monarch migration and what’s causing the population to decline.

Bright orange with black and white markings, the Monarch butterfly is one of our most charismatic insect species. Monarchs are among the few insects that migrate, and the way they migrate is one of the most fascinating among all animals. Weighing less than a paper clip, with a wingspan of only four inches, generations of monarchs fly hundreds to thousands of miles south each autumn. They over-winter in Mexico, Florida and southern California, before making the voyage north each spring. Last year’s winter count of Monarchs was the lowest since record keeping began 20 years ago. Scientists fear the number could be even smaller this year. In this month’s Environmental Outlook, Diane and her guests discuss why the monarch population is shrinking and how we can help preserve their habitat.

Guests

Rick Borchelt

science writer and amateur naturalist, and director for communications and public affairs, U.S. Energy Department Office of Science.

Karen Oberhauser

professor, University of Minnesota Department of Fisheries, Wildlife and Conservation Biology, and 2013 White House Citizen Science Champion of Change Award winner.

Tamie DeWitt

invertebrate biologist, Smithsonian National Zoo.

Diane Rehm Tags And Releases A Monarch Butterfly

Smithsonian biologist Tamie DeWitt shows Diane how to hold, tag, kiss good-bye and release a Monarch butterfly.

Google Earth Tour Of The Monarch Butterfly Migration

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