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July 4, 2013

Highway crews asked to help butterflies

SARANAC LAKE — AdkAction.org has asked Adirondack highway departments to time mowing activities to give monarchs bufferflies the best chance to survive and propagate.

AdkAction.org wrote to every town and county highway department in the Adirondack Park recently asking them to avoid mowing from July 1 to mid-September.

Two prominent monarch scientists advised AdkAction.org that mowing roadsides before July 1, then not again until after most of the butterflies have departed on their journey to Mexico is ideal.  Dr. Lincoln Brower of Sweetbriar College and the University of Florida and Dr. Orley R. “Chip” Taylor of University of Kansas said that practice will assure that milkweed foliage is available to monarchs during their final reproductive cycle in the Adirondacks.

Milkweed is the only plant on which monarchs lay their eggs.

“AdkAction.org would like to thank the highway departments who read our letter and are joining in the effort to give monarchs the best chance of survival here in the park,” Dave Wolff, AdkAction.org chair, said in a news release.

“The next few years are terribly important if the age-old Monarch migration to Mexico each year is to survive.

The last monarchs who emerge in the Adirondacks are members of a “super generation” that lives much longer than earlier generations and flies from here all the way to Mexico to winter, then back to the Gulf States in spring to renew the migratory cycle.

Their numbers have declined steadily over the past 20 years and fell 59 percent last year alone. The decline means the famed migration may become unsustainable, according to AdkAction.org.

The letter campaign to highway departments is only one part of a major monarch conservation project launched by AdkAction.org this spring. More than 10,000 educational fliers are being distributed across the park.

Also, AdkAction.org is donating $20,000 to sponsor the big-screen movie “Flight of the Butterflies” at The Wild Center for a year. The movie opens July 6 as part of Buzz Fest at the museum.

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