29 Nov '13, 11am

Of monarchs and milkweeds: How one species’ pest is another’s repast

The monarch butterfly is a prime example of charismatic minifauna. Charismatic megafauna — bears, sharks, wolves — evoke feelings of awe, but there’s a subtle contradiction in sheltering species that sometime eat us. With charismatic minifauna, however, that contradiction disappears. It may be harder to empathize with insects, but nurturing them comes a bit more naturally. People like Debbie Jackson, a conservation specialist with Monarch Watch, have been nurturing the insects for decades. “I started this as a little girl the cornfields of the Midwest, just enjoying them,” she said. “Feeding the caterpillars on milkweed and watching them grow.” Now monarchs are in trouble — in part because there’s not much milkweed left in the cornfields of the Midwest. “The numbers are astronomically horrible,” Jackson said. The monarch overwintering spot in the mountains of Mexico once h...

Full article: http://grist.org/food/of-monarchs-and-milkweeds-how-one-s...

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Of monarchs and milkweeds: How one species’ pes...

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