Monarch Watch program founder to speak during ButterflyFest Oct. 23-24

October 1st, 2010

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Bring your family and friends to hear one of the world’s leading experts on the migration of Monarchs during the Florida Museum of Natural History’s fifth annual ButterflyFest Oct. 23-24.

Orley “Chip” Taylor, founder and director of the national Monarch Watch program and University of Kansas professor of ecology and evolutionary biology, will give presentations both days.

From 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. Oct. 23, Taylor will discuss the Monarch Watch program, which he founded in 1992. From 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. Oct. 24, he will present “Migratory Patterns of the Monarch,” including information on how destruction of the Monarch’s habitat and natural resources is affecting its migration.

“I have been studying the effects of climate on Monarch populations for several years and climate change really has me worried,” said Taylor, who has also studied African bees, or killer bees, in French Guiana, Venezuela and Mexico. “Higher temperatures are likely to negatively affect Monarch populations by reducing reproductive success, and altering the distribution and abundance of milkweed plant species which Monarch caterpillars depend on for food and shelter.”

Monarch Watch focuses on the education, research and conservation of Monarch butterflies. With the help of volunteers nationwide, Taylor has been tagging Monarchs during their fall migration for the past 18 years.

In response to the rapid decline of Monarch habitats, Taylor created the Monarch Waystation program in 2006. It was created to inspire schools, gardeners and others to create Monarch habitats. Taylor also will discuss the incredible migration Monarchs make every fall from Canada through the central and southern U.S. to hibernation sites in central Mexico, where they spend the cold winter months.

In addition to Taylor’s presentations, ButterflyFest offers something for everyone. Throughout the weekend, all ages can participate in fun and educational activities, including live butterfly releases, take-away crafts for children, informative workshops, and presentations on conservation and attracting butterflies and other pollinators. Participants also may shop for butterfly-friendly plants or unique butterfly and garden gifts or take part in a special field trip or tour.

ButterflyFest admission and parking are free. Regular ticket prices apply to the Butterfly Rainforest exhibit, and special ButterflyFest tours and workshops are fee-based. For more festival information or to register for tours and workshops, visit www.flmnh.ufl.edu./butterflyfest or call 352-273-2064.

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Writer: Patti Nunez
Media contact: Paul Ramey, 352-273-2054, pramey@flmnh.ufl.edu