Elk Rapids Almanac
Elk Rapids is now officially a Monarch Butterfly City, and we will soon see those beautiful insects migrating through our area. However, they need a little help from all of us, so think about what you can do for them in your own backyard.
As a global designation, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature added the migrating monarch butterfly to its endangered species list--two steps from extinction. Although under consideration, it has not yet been added to the endangered species list in the United States. Write to your senator if you wish to offer your opinion.
Conservation biologist Nick Haddad, Michigan State University, estimates the population of monarch butterflies he studies in the eastern United States has declined between 85% and 95% since the 1990’s.
Conservation biologist Karen Oberhauser, University of Wisconsin-Madison, notes two threats to the Monarch: habitat loss and weather. People are creating habitat in gardens and back yards, and Departments of Transportation on federal, state and county levels are putting in habitat along roadsides. Habitat requires food for the larvae and for the adults. Since caterpillars only eat milkweed, people can plant native milkweed, and since nectar plants of many species of flowers feed the adults, people should not use pesticides, which will kill not only harmful insects but butterflies and bees as well.
Did you know??? Milkweeds are so named because, in addition to cardiac glycosides, they defend their tissues with a milky latex sap that jells on exposure to air. Insects that attempt to eat milkweed leaves soon find their mouthparts glued permanently shut by the sticky sap. Monarchs, however, have found a simple but amazing way to defeat this defense: they block the flow of sap to milkweed leaves (Dussourd and Eisner 1987). Learn more in Douglas Tallamy’s Nature’s Best Hope, 2019. (pp. 103-15).
The Citizen Scientist monarch monitoring blitz is coming up from July 29 to August 7, an opportunity to report sightings of monarchs at: Journeynorth.org.
Coming in August
The Perseid meteor shower is expected to peak at 1:00 a.m. local time on August 13 —The Perseids start on July 17 and remain active through Aug. 24. Catch the shooting stars on an off night due to the full Sturgeon Moon that will be in effect.