Connecting people with nature in Ontario's Mississippi Valley

Conservation Challenges: focus on monarchs, with Jean Lauriault of the Canadian Museum of Nature

Press Release
Mississippi Valley Field Naturalist
January 3, 2008
Submitted by Pauline Donaldson

Conservation Challenges: focus on monarchs, with Jean Lauriault of the Canadian Museum of Nature

ButterflyNext Thursday, January 17th, the Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists (MVFN) proudly present a lecture by Jean Lauriault of the Canadian Museum of Nature, as our “Our Natural World: Conservation Challenges” lecture series continues for the New Year. A case study of the remarkable monarch butterfly will highlight the lecture’s focus on butterfly conservation challenges. Our guest speaker is one of Canada’s foremost experts on conservation efforts for monarchs and is the lead for Canada on the Canada/Mexico/U.S. Trilateral Committee for Wildlife and Ecosystem Conservation and Management’s Monarch Butterfly Advisory Group.

At this time of year millions of monarch butterflies sleep, dormant in their humid sanctuaries in the mountainous Oyamel fir forests of Mexico. These are the same late season, longer-lived adults who left our gardens and fields last fall to take the few thousand mile journey south. They will remain there until March when longer days trigger sexual maturation and their return trip north, which will take several generations in tandem.

A botanist and environmentalist, Jean Lauriault, is Environmental Specialist for the Canadian Centre for Biodiversity at the Canadian Museum of Nature and author of the Identification Guide to Trees of Canada. He is reportedly seldom at his desk at the museum, however, doing field work in Michoacan, Mexico and, closer to home, as project manager for the Frenchman River Biodiversity Project in Saskatchewan and previously the Rideau River Biodiversity Project. Lauriault has traveled to Mexico for the past 12 years, including in December as member of the North American Monarch Conservation Plan Committee. Lauriault is also a teacher trainer for monarch biology and conservation and is involved in certification of the Canadian Wildlife Federation (CWF) Backyard Habitat program for monarchs, and educational resources for Montreal’s Insectarium.

January seems a good time to study the biology and conservation issues facing these intriguing lepidopterans. Conservation for the larvae may seem as simple as protection of host milkweed populations and for the adults conservation could focus on the many wildflowers important for these and other butterflies. A closer look however, reveals more complex and interesting conservation issues for the monarch butterfly, whose winter sanctuaries comprising millions of individuals were only finally discovered in 1976. Our speaker will explore these issues and let us know what we can do for butterfly conservation.

The lecture by Jean Lauriault, “The Monarch Butterfly: insights into the biology, host plants and predators” will take place Thursday January 17th at 7:30 pm at the Almonte United Church Social Hall, 106 Elgin St., Almonte. There is a fee of $5 for non-members over 16. Refreshments provided as usual and free colorful butterfly posters from CWF will also be available. All are welcome. For more information, please contact MVFN’s Program Chair Joyce Clinton at 613-257-4879 or see MVFN’s website at www.mvfn.ca.