AUGUST 29, 2022 — Texas is a crucial stop along the migratory path of the monarch butterfly. The population travels from its summer habitat in the Northern United States and Canada south to Mexico for a warmer refuge during the winter season. Students and faculty in the UTSA College of Sciences (COS) are working to ensure that monarchs have the food they need on their long journey.
The monarch butterfly was recently declared endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
Janis Bush, professor and chair of the COS’ Department of Integrative Biology, is leading a research team that surveyed the Texas landscape for milkweed which is critical to the survival of the monarch. The team has partnered with organizations such as U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services, the Monarch Joint Venture, and the National Butterfly Center.
“Monarchs are pollinators, and pollinators are critical for a healthy landscape and our food supply,” said Bush. “It’s been phenomenal working with people from different states and countries and to see how people come together for a common good. We’re working to ensure Texas is part of the solution and that Texas has a voice as the conservation community works to solve the problem and conserve monarchs. We all have an opportunity to be part of the solution.”
The team estimated the amount of milkweed and nectar plants across the landscape where monarch butterflies migrate. The monarchs make their trek across the state twice a year. They travel north in the spring and south in the winter. On their trip north, the population looks for milkweed to lay its eggs, and the adults need nectar plants for survival. The larva uses the milkweed as a food source for growth. As the monarchs return to the south during the winter months, they seek nectar plants to gain sugar necessary for their journey to Mexico.
“We’ve always focused so much on milkweed, which is vital. You have to have it. But I think it’s important for us to remember that the adults also need other nectar plants as they’re migrating through the state of Texas,” Bush said.
Bush and her team started their effort in 2015. Bush, Julian Chavez ’15, Hector Escobar ’15, Ursula Alvarado-Miller ’14 ’18, Monica Juarez ’17, and several undergraduate students surveyed plants along IH-35 and U.S. 281 from Alice, Texas to Wichita Falls, Texas, and from Pineland to Ozona, Texas. Over three years, they found and documented milkweed on the landscape.
“But one thing that was interesting and a bit concerning: There’s not a lot of milkweed if you move from San Antonio south to Laredo and Eagle Pass,” Bush said. “For the female monarchs to be able to lay their eggs, they really have to make it to either San Antonio or a little bit north of San Antonio.”
This long journey jeopardizes the survival of the population.
Bush explained that milkweed seeds germinate well, but the seedlings are hard to grow. The plants also die back—a process defining how aboveground portions of the plant die, but the roots are still viable.
More importantly, Bush says, patience is key.
“If people are impatient when they see the seedlings die back, they think the plant is dead and will pull it out of the ground. We found is that some of these species will die back and then resprout at the base of the next year or so,” Bush said.
Texas residents who want to support the monarch population should report sightings of monarchs on journeynorth.org
“It’s a great way for people to be involved,” Bush said.
The Racial Justice Book Club was established at UTSA by members of the campus community to explore social justice following acts of racial violence across the nation over the last few years. We are reading The Injustice Never Leaves You: Anti-Mexican Violence in Texas by Monica Muñoz Martinez. We will meet every Wednesday in September and October at 2 pm on Zoom.Virtual Event
This September 30, the Friday Series will feature Prof. Milena Ang, who will be presenting A Tren to Nowhere: Statistic Development and the Politics of Racial, a paper co-authored with Tania Islas-Weistein where they discuss Mexico's long history of state-led development projects that contribute to economic and racial inequality. The authors argue that despite professing racial justice, official discourses surrounding the Tren Maya reproduce existing symbolic and material forms of racism.McKinney Humanities (MH 4.01.01,) Main Campus
The UTSA Libraries will be hosting a panel discussion on Latiné/x-centric voting and voting rights!Bexar Room (H-E-B SU 1.102,) Main Campus
National Night Out is an annual community-building campaign that promotes police-community partnerships and neighborhood camaraderie to make our campus community a safer, more caring place to learn. It will be held Tuesday, October 5, 2021 at Main campus from 6:00pm-8:00pm on the Student Union Paseo.Student Union Paseo, Main Campus
Join Wellbeing Services, UTSA Recovery Operations, and the San Antonio Metropolitan Health District as we have an informational Q&A session with guest speaker Dr. Anita Kurian from San Antonio Metropolitan Health District discussing Monkeypox.Retama Auditorium (SU 2.02.02,) Main Campus
We invite you to learn about the process of screenwriting and explore the intersection of identity and pursuing dreams from Jorge Ramirez-Martinez and Raymond Perez, screenwriters for the Selena: The Series, released on Netflix. They will discuss their careers and writing process, including how their identities as Mexican American and gay men have shaped their professional experiences.Virtual Event
Please join us in remembering those who have entered the next part of life by designing a nicho box in their memory. This workshop will provide the necessary items to create your nicho box, though please remember to bring a photo or small object that can fit in a 3.5 x5x1 inch box (small jewelry box).John Peace Library GroupSpot B, Main Campus
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