Beauty and Life Term Paper

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[. . .] "It is a wondrous spectacle, but within a decade, scientists fear, most migratory monarchs may vanish from North America -- victims of human stupidity and greed" (Darrach 1993). Every year hundreds of millions of monarchs migrate from Mexico to Canada. This is a trip of 5,000 miles. The butterflies that go to Mexico and survive the winter then head north in March. Then the monarchs will lay eggs in the states and die. The baby monarchs will travel to Canada. These create more monarchs as they travel to Canada. In August they head back to Mexico. Their speed can be up to 35 mph. Darrach says, "One tagged specimen soared 265 miles in a single day" (1993). The monarch has several self-preservation strategies. It has the most homing instinct of various insects. The monarch to increase its species has become "exuberantly prolific" (Darrick 1993). The beautiful female butterfly flutters from male to male until she is full of eggs. In fact, in less than a month she may lay over 400 eggs. She lays her eggs on the poisonous milkweed to keep predators from harming the eggs. The larvae gorge on milkweed leaves whose leaves contain a toxin until it changes through the metamorphosis into the beautiful monarch. Now birds that eat the monarch become violently sick and vomit and seldom eat another monarch.

The Monarch Butterfly Will It Be An Endangered Species?

Greed may make the monarchs an endangered species. Brad Darrach says, "It's hard to believe a species that has survived for perhaps 10 million years, a species still hardy and extravagantly numerous, could be so severely endangered" (1993). The Canadian government provides three protested nesting areas for the monarchs (Gainor 1998). Tens of millions of Monarch butterflies migrate every year. This is a 2,500-mile trip from Canada to Mexico. Problems with the butterflies living in Mexico is that more than 450,000 people live in the area where the Monarchs choose to winter. Many of the people are poor and live in forests there. Over 80% of the people live directly or indirectly off the forests. This may lead to losing the monarchs in this area if the problem of the people cutting the trees for employment. "The regional development commission has come up with a $3 million, three-year pilot development program that includes more value-added wood production for the locals, plus such alternatives to woodcutting as fish-farming, honey production, even shiitake mushroom cultivation. Ecotourism is also part of the plan" (LaFranchi 1995). Several may not be interested in this project because of trouble with past journalists. It has slowed the rate of forest destruction. If many of the people would realize the program to protect the monarchs is actually keeping the forest from being destroyed. It is one of the greatest of insect migrations and many scientists and individuals love to watch the migration of this unique butterfly.

Approximately 140 million Monarch Butterflies migrate over 2,500 miles to the Mexican homes. Many are concerned with the species as mentioned before. More people are trying to help these butterflies. The government has set up a $6.1 million trust fund for local residents to stop cutting the Oyamel fir forests -- the trees the butterflies need for their sanctuary (Christian Science 2001). The country has been working on this problem for almost 17 years, but the logging and cutting of trees has not stopped. In many of the monarch sanctuaries the cutting and logging has increased. Over 40% of monarch forests have been destroyed. Getting jobs for the loggers might encourage ecotourism and help both the people and the butterflies. There are jobs for reserve guides, tourist transporters, and chambermaids that have been created due to the ecotourism (LaFranchi 2000). The problem is that these must convince the illegal loggers to stop working and be employed by legal positions created to help protect the monarch butterfly. The problem though is that the noise and trash threatens the monarch sanctuaries. The impact of the tourist visits places a different problem on the Monarchs. "The Michoacan Mountains have gradually become the scene of conflict between those local authorities and the campesinos (laborers) who understand the monarch's economic benefits, and those who do not" (LaFranchi 2000).

The El Rosario Monarch Reserve

The El Rosario Monarch Reserve is one of five located in the Mexican government. This is the most developed in terms of ecotourism. There are tours, but most people walk the paths by themselves. This leaves the way to all kinds of different abuse and deterioration. There are signs that ask for silence so the butterflies will not be bothered, but many people yell and laugh. Some children stomp on the insects as parents watch. Candy wrappers and other thrash are left on the trails.

Some of the local residents realize how important the reserves are to their future as well the butterflies. "Jose Ram'rez Franco, who drives tourist 40 minutes up a bumpy road from the mining town of Angangueuo to the reserve, says, "The butterflies are really our only source of income now, so we want to see them cared for" (LaFranchi 2000).

Another guide, Maximo Dom'nguez Gonzalez, says, "You can face five years in prison and $50,000 pesos (about $5,300) for cutting a tree illegally in the reserve so nobody does it" (LaFranchi 2000). They cut the trees anyway. There are lots of crimes in the reserves even when they are under care. No one does any thing to stop the crime. The reserve director says that it will take eight to ten years for the reserve to recover the trees that it has lost.

More Monarch Butterflies Killed and Solutions

Millions of monarchs are killed each year by automobiles. Pesticides kill more because it poisons the water they drink. Herbicides sprayed on gardens to kill the wildflowers poison the monarch's main source of nectar. Even worse these herbicides destroy the milkweed that is vital to the monarch for nourishment and protection. The monarch may become an endangered species if measures are not taken to protect them. California is serious about those who hurt the Monarch because they fine them $500.

In the U.S. they have persuaded seed companies to produce a "monarch mixture" of milkweed and wildflowers that thousands of schoolchildren plant in monarch meadows" (Darrach 1993). This is an excellent way for the monarch to continue to multiply in this country. Some companies sell the Monarch Butterflies for release at weddings and special occasion. This is popular in many areas.

The Monarch Butterfly is closely watched by many to try to prevent it from being distinct. Most butterfly lovers love to watch the Monarch. Many scientists have traveled from Canada to Mexico as it makes it yearly trips. The caterpillar eats the milkweed to protect the butterfly. The color of the butterfly is important because it lets others know that it is poisonous. The lifecycle of a butterfly might seem short, but they travel a long way during their short life period. Many may think that a life of a butterfly is simple and easy, but how wrong they are.

Scientific Genus and Species: Danaus Plexippus

Class: Insecta (insects)

Order: Lepidoptera (butterflies)

Family: Danaidae (Milkweed butterfly family)

Genus: Danaus

Species: Plexippus

The Monarch Butterfly in a Nutshell

The Monarch Butterfly is an attractive butterfly that travels almost 2500 miles each year as it goes from Canada to Mexico. The male is identified by a black scent pocket on the their vein of the hindwing. Caterpillars eat the poisonous milkweed that makes the butterfly poisonous. Birds and others know this by their color. (Zim and Cottam 1987).

References

Butterflies and Moths" Encarta Encyclopedia Article. http://encarta.msn.com/find/Concise.asp?z=1&pg=2&ti=761578331&cid=2

Butterflies The World of Nature" 1990. New York: Gallery Books

Carson, Shawn. "Unraveling the Secrets of Monarchs" Scientific American Sep. 1997 Vol. 277 Issue 3 p. 90

Darrach, Brad. "Millions of Monarchs" Life. Aug 93. Vol. 16. Issue 9. p. 50

Feltwell, John. "The Natural History of Butterflies" 1986. New York: Facts on File.

Gainor, Paul. "The Monarch's Perilous Flight" E. Magazine: The Environmental Magazine Jul/Aug 98. Vol. 9. Issue 4. p. 22

Monarch Butterfly" Insecta Inspecta World. http://www.insecta-inspecta.com/butterflies/monarch

Holden, Constance. "Monarchs and Their Roots" Science. 01/08/99. Vol. 283. Issue 5399. p. 171

LaFranchi, Howard.… [END OF PREVIEW]

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