The Year the Monarch Didn’t Appear

This article by Jim Robbins appeared in the New York Times.

Drawing by Micah Lidberg of a monarch butterfly on an isolated milkweed plant surrounded by corn

Drawing by Micah Lidberg

On the first of November, when Mexicans celebrate a holiday called the Day of the Dead, some also celebrate the millions of monarch butterflies that, without fail, fly to the mountainous fir forests of central Mexico on that day. They are believed to be souls of the dead, returned.

This year, for or the first time in memory, the monarch butterflies didn’t come, at least not on the Day of the Dead. They began to straggle in a week later than usual, in record-low numbers. Last year’s low of 60 million now seems great compared with the fewer than three million that have shown up so far this year. Some experts fear that the spectacular migration could be near collapse.

“It does not look good,” said Lincoln P. Brower, a monarch expert at Sweet Briar College.

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Arbor Award nominations open

Sycamore tree in winterBy Amy Redfield

Do you know someone who is a good arborist, or a town or community that cares well for its trees? The Missouri Department of Conservation is accepting nominations for their annual Missouri Arbor Award of Excellence. Please use the brief form on the MDC website to nominate the individual, organization, municipality or business for consideration.

Applications are due by December 6, 2013.

October meeting minutes

Six guests joined 20 members for this month’s program, held in Illinois.

Program

Wild Ones at the Gordon Moore prairie near Alton, Illinoid

Wild Ones at the Gordon Moore prairie

Prairie volunteer stewards Nan and Neil Adams hosted a tour of Heartland Prairie located northeast of Alton, Illinois.  The Heartland Prairie is a 27-acre reconstructed tallgrass prairie on the north side of Gordon Moore Park.  It was planted in 1977 by Sierra Club members and is managed by The Nature Institute.  The land is owned by the City of Alton.

Bill Long was our tour guide.  Nan Adams reports that Bill is “a self-trained naturalist who took an interest in the prairie about 15 years ago.  Bill leads twice-monthly tours, and guides volunteer stewards in caring for the plants in the front area of the prairie.  He is leading the way on experimenting with mulch and sand gardens.”

The prairie is made up of more than 150 native prairie plant species that host a large variety of grassland-dependent birds.  The Nature Institute uses prescribed fire and other land management techniques to keep invasive plants under control and to promote a healthy tallgrass prairie ecosystem.

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