Day 5: Butterfly Friday
Don't forget to tag #WildlifeWeek on social media.
- Share: Sign the Center for Biological Diversity’s petition to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to give monarch butterflies the long overdue protection that they need under the Endangered Species Act and share on social media.
- Eat: Celebrate the start of the weekend by making your Wildlife Week social and inviting friends over for a pizza and movie night or potluck dinner. The Wildlife Week Calendar gives you tons of suggestions for meatless pizza toppings. For a dinner, try giving it a theme such as Mexican, Mediterranean or Asian cuisine. Start with recipes on the calendar or search the hundreds of meatless recipes available on the internet.
- Act: Plant milkweed to create habitat for these amazing butterflies. Milkweed is the sole food of monarch caterpillars and provides nectar for bees and butterflies, too. No garden? No worries. Share our petition and ask friends to sign on to save monarchs.
Today's featured recipes: Meatless for Monarchs
Featured Wildlife: Monarch Butterfly
The road trip: It’s an American tradition. You’ve probably seen more than one road-trip movie, and chances are you’ve packed up a car and trekked across some part of the country yourself. But the real master of the North American journey is the monarch butterfly. Every year monarch butterflies make a legendary migration of more than 2,000 miles from Mexico to Canada. This epic trip cannot be completed by a single butterfly, and instead is a multigenerational endeavor (23). No other insect has become an American icon like the monarch; featured in literature and poetry, raised by elementary school children around the country and beloved by gardeners, monarch butterflies were once a familiar sight. However, over the past 20 years monarch populations have declined by more than 80 percent (23).
Pesticide use, land development and global climate change are responsible for the precipitous decline in monarch populations. One of the major threats pushing monarchs toward extinction is the near-eradication of milkweed — the monarch caterpillar’s only food source — from Mid-western cropland where most monarchs were once born. Milkweed has fallen victim to skyrocketing use of the herbicide glyphosate (also known as Roundup) sprayed on genetically engineered Roundup Ready corn and soybeans planted on more than 150 million acres of land. Studies show that monarchs typically lay nearly four times more eggs per plant on milkweed growing in cropland than in other areas, making this loss even more harmful to the butterfly’s survival (24). Since more than half of the grain grown in the country goes toward feeding livestock, the production of meat has driven high demand for Roundup Ready® corn.
In Florida high temperatures have produced a population of nearly 90 percent female turtles, and it is predicted that an additional one degree Celsius increase in temperature will produce a population of zero males in that area. Climate change threatens the feeding habitats of sea turtles. With their population levels and food sources at risk from climate change, loggerhead populations around the globe are in decline.
- Land development
- Climate change
Key Threat From Meat Production: Pesticides
The mass use of pesticides to produce animal feed is yet another way in which meat production is unsustainable. Meat production is responsible for 37 percent of all pesticide use in the United States; 167 million pounds of pesticides are used every year to grow animal feed, and about half of all harvested cropland in the United States is used for growing grain for consumption by animals (25). Pesticides threaten the survival and recovery of hundreds of federally protected species, including polar bears, salmon, sea turtles, kit foxes and a number of amphibians and insects. Pesticide have not only contaminated water and soil, they also contribute to air pollution and climate change. The production of pesticides consumes fossil fuels and produces byproducts that are toxic to humans and wildlife (25). Particularly at risk are our natural pollinators, like bees and butterflies.
Without these pollinators, most agricultural crops can’t grow, resulting in a lot less food available for the rapidly growing global population. More than 100 crops need pollinators — for example, without pollinators we couldn’t grow apples, almonds, blueberries, cherries, avocados, cucumbers, onions, grapefruits, oranges, and pumpkins. More than $15 billion worth of crops are pollinated by bees each year in the United States alone.