Monarch Butterfly

The migration of millions of monarch butterflies, stretching over 2500 miles, reaching from Mexico to Canada, and spanning four generations, is at risk due to logging in their winter habitat, and loss of milkweed, a critical food, as they reach their summer lands.


Narrator: Bill CalvertTitle: AstonishingDuration: 00:04:11Date: June 30, 2023Bill Calvert, Ph.D., has studied the biology and conservation of monarch butterflies for over 45 years. Here he tells about his 1977 encounter with the beautiful butterflies as they overwintered in the oyamel fir forests, high in the tropical mountains of Michoacan.Narrator: Carol CullarTitle: Tied to the Rest of the EarthDuration: 00:03:28Date: February 22, 2006Carol Cullar, a poet, artist, and natural science teacher in Eagle Pass, Texas, shows her students how the monarch butterfly migration that passes through their small community ties them all to vast ecosystems in Mexico, the U.S. and Canada.Narrator: Cathy DownsTitle: Attention SpanDuration: 00:02:52Date: May 17, 2023Based in the Texas Hill Country, Cathy Downs is an educator and advocate for monarch butterflies. She has worked with the Native Plant Society, Master Naturalists, Texas Wildlife Association, Cibolo Nature Center, Monarch Watch, and many other groups. Here she talks about the challenge of getting and keeping the public's often-wandering attention for conservation efforts.Narrator: Cathy DownsTitle: AmbassadorDuration: 00:01:48Date: May 17, 2023Cathy Downs is an experienced monarch butterfly educator based near Comfort, Texas. She has worked with the Texas Wildlife Association, Native Plant Society, Master Naturalists, Cibolo Nature Center, Monarch Watch, and a number of other conservation non-profits. Here she talks about the valuable role that monarchs play as a friendly ambassador and nonpartisan entry point for wide-ranging, and sometimes controversial, environmental discussions.Narrator: Hal FlandersTitle: Milkweed and Oyamel FirDuration: 00:06:36Date: April 4, 2001Based in Alpine, Hal Flanders was a Big Bend naturalist and guide. Here he recalls tracking the monarch butterfly to its winter range in the oyamel fir forests west of Mexico City. He was entranced by the butterfly's immense migration and the resourcefulness of the birds that preyed on them despite their milkweed chemical defenses. He was also dismayed by the greed of local oyamel fir lumbermen and the blindness of the public to the key role of pollinators in our food supply.Narrator: Jeffrey GlassbergTitle: Complicated WorldDuration: 00:02:12Date: May 8, 2023Jeff Glassberg, Ph.D., a molecular geneticist, is also a butterfly expert responsible for founding the North American Butterfly Association and the National Butterfly Center. Here he points out there are contradictions about campaigns to plant the common milkweed, a plant that the monarch butterfly heavily relies on, to restore the monarch to its former huge numbers. For instance, there are signs that the common milkweed was likely less common in the years before Westerners settled the Midwest and farmed the prairies. From that view, planting milkweed might well not turn the clock back, nor restore the monarch. Narrator: Jeffrey GlassbergTitle: Binoculars and NetsDuration: 00:02:26Date: May 8, 2023Jeffrey Glassberg, the founder of the North American Butterfly Association and the National Butterfly Center, describes the early split in the study and appreciation of birds and butterflies. He traces the break back to the 1890s, and the early adoption of binoculars by birders, while butterfly aficionados continued to rely on netting and killing their quarries.Narrator: Nancy GreigTitle: MigrationDuration: 00:00:57Date: June 13, 2023Nancy Greig, Ph.D., was the founding director of the Cockrell Butterfly Center at the Houston Museum of Natural Sciences, where she served for 23 years. Here she clarifies that the monarch butterfly, as a species, is relatively safe. But, the amazing phenomenon of its multi-generational, long-distance migration across North America is at serious risk.Narrator: Barbara Keller-WillyTitle: ChickadeeDuration: 00:01:39Date: May 23, 2023With the monarch butterfly proposed for endangered species status, there is an understandable urge to protect every monarch. However, Barbara Keller-Willy, a Master Naturalist and the founder and director of Monarch Gateway, reminds us of the critical role that monarchs play as a meal for birds, frogs, and other insects.Narrator: Barbara Keller-WillyTitle: Tropical MilkweedDuration: 00:04:13Date: May 23, 2023Barbara Keller-Willy, a Master Naturalist and founder of the non-profit Monarch Gateway, has been heavily involved in propagating and sharing native milkweed to support monarch populations. She was concerned that the tropical milkweed commonly available in nurseries caused serious problems for the monarch. Here she talks about some of the tropical milkweed's impacts on the monarchs migrating through Texas.Narrator: Monika MaeckleTitle: Avocados and CartelsDuration: 00:02:45Date: July 21, 2023Monika Maeckle, a writer, marketer, and butterfly advocate, is the founder of the Texas Butterfly Ranch on the Llano River, and the Monarch Butterfly and Pollinator Festival in San Antonio. Here she describes the perfect storm of factors undermining the monarch butterfly migration, including oyamel fir logging, milkweed loss, climate change, urban development, pesticide use, and even cartel activity and avocado farming, coming into play.