Upcoming talk to explore endangered migration of monarch butterflies

Monarch numbers have plummeted in the past 15 years — by as much as 81 percent between 1999 and 2010. This year’s monarch migration area was the smallest in 20 years. What are the causes of this downward population trend? What exciting conservation initiatives are underway to counter the decline?

At 7 p.m. Thursday, May 15, at the Cazenovia Public Library, The Nature Conservancy will present a lecture by Dr. Ernest Williams, a biologist at Hamilton College, on the threatened migration of the monarch butterfly.

Williams will examine these questions and discuss how the monarch’s struggle for survival mirrors that of other butterfly species in our region. Jim Howe, The Nature Conservancy’s director in Central and Western New York, will also share how conservation initiatives can help butterfly populations.

A biologist at Hamilton College for the past 30 years, Williams’ fieldwork has focused on studying monarch butterflies in their Mexican overwintering sites, frosted elfin butterflies in the sand plains of Central New York and checkerspot butterflies in Rocky Mountain meadows. His books include, “The Nature Handbook: A Guide to Observing the Great Outdoors.” He is also co-author of “The Stokes Butterfly Book.”

Most recently, Williams was featured in a New York Times editorial, “Monarchs Fight for Their Lives,” and co-authored a letter with 17 other butterfly experts to President Barack Obama, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper asking the three leaders to commit to restoring monarch habitat across the continent and to plant milkweed, the monarch caterpillar’s only food source, along its migratory route.

This talk is sponsored by the Central New York Community Foundation and is free and open to the public.

To register, email cwnyevents@tnc.org or call Jan Miller at 585-546-8030 ext.28. For more information visit nature.org/cwnyevents.

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