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Gail S Hennessey's picture
Gail Skroback Hennessey taught for over 33 years, teaching sixth grade in all but two years. She earned a BA in early secondary education with a concentration in social studies and an MST in social...
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Using the News in the Classroom: Monarch Butterflies are in Trouble

North American Monarch butterflies are in trouble. According to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, the population of monarchs has dropped so much that they have listed the butterfly on the endangered list. Just in the past 10 years, it is estimated their numbers have gone down 70%. A source of food for many North American birds, the monarchs are important pollinators helping to grow our different crops. Pesticides, loss of habitat and climate change are the cause for the dwindling number of these beautiful orange and black butterflies.  

One main reason for less monarch butterflies is a pesticide that is used today. It kills weeds and it also kills a plant called milkweed. Milkweed is the only plant that a monarch butterfly uses to lay their eggs. It is also the only food of the Monarch caterpillar. The lepidoptera (name for butterflies) need our help. People are being encouraged to plant more milkweed plants along the routes that Monarchs follow on their migration south. 
When Liam Lopez Wagner was just 2 years old, he was fascinated with butterflies. Now, 7, Liam, of Lowell, Michigan, has started Amigos for Monarchs. Liam says that milkweed plants are what monarchs especially like to munch on and they also lay their eggs on the plants. So, Liam figures, the more milkweed plants, the more monarchs! For the last couple of years, Liam has been sending  packets of milkweed seeds (and a personal note) to people around the country to plant milkweed seeds.  He calls himself Liam the Lepidopterist. Check out Liam's website:
Learn More About Monarchs:
Extension Activities:
1. Draw/color a picture of a monarch butterfly. Write a day in the life of a monarch. What do you see? Hear? Feel? Touch? as you migrate toward Mexico for the winter.
2. Discuss the Japanese poem, Haiku. Three lines, syllables 5/7/5. Write a Haiku about a Monarch Butterfly.
3, Review prior knowledge on why butterflies are important.Review the information at this site: Monarchs!  Make a poster and include 3 facts learned.
4. Try this puzzle on a Monarch Butterfly
Photograph from WPCLIPART