Utah Native Plant Society

The posts contained herein are intended to be informational, and any opinions expressed are mine alone.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

FWS to conduct status review of Monarch butterfly as a result of positive 90-day finding

On December 29, 2014 the US Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) announced that it would be publishing a positive finding on December 31, 2014 in the Federal Register with respect to a petition filed by several groups to list the North American Monarch butterfly, Danaus plexippus plexippus, under the Endangered Species Act.


FWS Dec. 29, 2014 bulletin

The petition process is outlined here:


As a result, the FWS will proceed to conduct a status review that will be completed within one year.

The Utah Native Plant Society has not taken an official position on the listing of the Monarch butterfly but certainly strongly supports its conservation.  We in fact just recently highlighted it in our November 2014 newsletter:


Local citizens can do many things to promote Monarch butterfly conservation.  This includes not only the planting of native milkweed species (see Sego Lily article above) along with other native forb species but also in advocating for the protection of our relatively few remaining wetland, wet meadows and freshwater marsh habitats remaining particularly along the Wasatch Front (as well as throughout the state).

A Monarch butterfly on Marsh Aster 
(Symphyotrichum lanceolatum var. hesperium, syn. Aster hesperius)

A priority also needs to be placed on the removal of the invasive Russian Olive (Elaeagnus angustifolia) and to not continue to plant it.  Birds and occasionally butterflies use Russian Olive trees only because that's all that we've given them to use, not because they need them.  There is a terrible misunderstanding by many members of the public about Russian Olive; it is an ecological nightmare and contributes to the decline of numerous species.  And birds spread their seeds far and wide causing Russian Olive to be found everywhere throughout the state, exacerbating the problem.   Property owners can make a positive contribution by removing any/all Russian Olive on their property and by never planting it in the first place.   As a prolific seed producer, continued due diligence in removing seedlings and juvenile plants must then occur into the indefinite future following removal if we ever have any hope of getting it under control.

In place of Russian Olive and  where appropriate (and particularly in areas near or within open spaces), individuals and government agencies in valley to foothill habitats that are sufficiently moist should consider planting in its place (along with tall forb and other species besides these native trees and shrubs) local genotypes of:

Peachleaf willow (Salix amygdaloides)  (and other locally native willow species)
River hawthorn (Crataegus rivularis)
Golden currant (Ribes aureum)
Wood's rose (Rosa woodsii)

Some related links:







Asclepias speciosa receiving a visit from an adult Monarch
(non-native Teasel, Dipsacus fullonum, at far left, another significant invasive species problem)

More views of a Monarch butterfly on Marsh Aster

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