Monarch butterfly research in the USA

This September 2014 video from the USA is called Monarch Biology: Eggs and Caterpillars.

From Associated Press:

Missing monarchs: School’s science project is good news for butterfly

By Mary Landers

01/10/2015 12:01:00 AM MST

SAVANNAH, GA. — There are no butterflies in Savannah Country Day‘s butterfly garden this cool December morning. But that doesn’t deter monarch butterfly researcher Dara Satterfield, who has found wintering monarchs nearby.

“We are seeing monarchs breeding year-round at Wormsloe and at The Landings,” said Satterfield, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Georgia.

Satterfield’s research has pointed to a connection between non-native milkweed and the behavior and health of monarchs. Milkweed, a tropical plant that grows year-round, lures monarchs into sticking around all year, too, instead of migrating.

But less travel hasn’t proven healthy for the iconic butterflies. Monarchs that stay put have more trouble with a tiny parasite that weakens or kills them and kills others.

The parasite is a microscopic, single-celled organism called Ophryocystis elektroscirrha, or Oe for short, that infected females transmit to the plants where they lay their eggs.

Satterfield discovered Country Day’s garden on its website and asked to visit. The “yes” from science teacher Bill Eswine led to fourth- and fifth-graders’ involvement in the research. The students marked with flags orange flags the gardens’ dozens of milkweed plants. Then students examined those plants for eggs and caterpillars.

They found no evidence of monarchs at all.

What sounds like a scientific bust is really a bonanza for Satterfield. The Country Day site is one for her to revisit come spring when its migrant monarchs return.

She’ll look at the levels of the parasite in butterflies here and in those at overwintering sites such as Wormsloe and The Landings.

“In spring we can compare disease levels,” Satterfield said. “It’ll work out.

Climate Change Messing with Mother Nature’s Timetable: Consider the Monarch Butterfly: here.

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