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Where To Go Next for Thursday, August 14


Today's Travel News

Thursday, August 14, 2008


Monarch Butterflies: Long Distance Champs


You're riding your bicycle, moving right along and enjoying the scenery, sun on your back and breeze in your face, it's rather startling to have a butterfly zip out of nowhere right past you. It's then you realize how extraordinarily efficient such a lovely and nearly weightless insect it is. And how immeasurably adept at flight it must be. It takes me a day and all my energy to pedal 70 miles. One monarch butterfly was monitored flying 265 miles in a single day! This remarkable butterfly travels thousands of miles - from Canada through the United States and into Mexico for the winter - and then back up north for the summer.

Monarch butterflies resting during their migration from Canada to Mexico. Sometimes so many butterflies gather on a host tree that their combined weight snaps off branches, sending the insects scurrying into the air.

Nowadays this voyager gets lots of help from a tri-national Commission for Environmental Cooperation, a consortium of Mexico, the U.S. and Canada whose North American Monarch Conservation Plan was announced in late June.

The plan is a way to protect and restore the monarch butterfly habitat, monitor their transcontinental migration and teach thousands of school children about their unique migration. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service works with the plan through hundreds of national wildlife refuges and a host of programs devoted to protecting the health of the monarchs.

"Monarch butterflies not only capture the imagination of our children - who will be tomorrow's conservation leaders - but their numbers are one way to judge how well we are protecting critical habitat," says H. Dale Hall, director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. "[We are] determined that the monarch will thrive for our grandchildren to marvel."



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