Butterflies, monarch butterflies in particular, have always been the one type of bug that don’t make people cringe or shiver from disgust. But our time with these lovable insects is ticking down as its population continues to shrink.
Researchers from the Montreal Insectarium, Université du Québec, University of Ottawa, University of Calgary and Université de Montréal have an ingenious plan that involves everyone in Canada (that means you). Any Canadians who happen to find milkweed, the plant that monarchs lay their eggs on, can enter the plant’s location and information on Mission Monarch‘s website. Scientists aim to find out how to improve the reproductive habitat for the butterflies after studying their breeding areas throughout Canada.
“The focus is on reproduction — the reproductive capacity of habitat in Canada,” said Maxim Larrivée, head researcher at the Montreal Insectarium. “We want to be able to identify, through documenting milkweed abundance, to have a better idea of its presence, but also assess the productivity of the habitats where milkweed grows.”
Although some milkweed in Canada has already been tracked and mapped by researchers, this project is more about finding the largest monarch breeding sites. Be ready to count monarch eggs, caterpillars and butterflies if you want to get involved with the search.
Larrivée said “we have to make sure that we provide them the best breeding conditions possible so we can boost the migratorial population to a point where it can buffer all the pressures and perils it will go through in migration.” This means you can help make a peaceful environment for butterflies to get down and dirty in. So, for the sake of the monarchs, get out there and find some milkweed!