Did you know that the monarch butterfly is the Texas state insect? They flutter through the state this time of year when they migrate from Canada to Mexico. But their populations are dwindling. What's more, entomologists are finding masses of dead monarchs, with their unmistakable black and orange wings, on the side of Texas highways.
Texas A&M University professor Robert Coulson led a study about monarch roadkill deaths, and says cars are just one more threat to the insect, in addition to changes in weather, pesticides and more. His team is tracking the number of dead monarchs in order to try to find ways to protect them in the future.
“It involves walking roadways and counting dead butterflies on the side of the road; it’s not very glamorous work,” Coulson says.
Coulson says the butterflies are dying in droves in South Texas on their last leg of their journey. The region is a “hot spot” for monarch roadkill because of the particular wind patterns and topography. Drivers can help the butterflies by reporting to scientists when they see large butterfly populations. Coulson says that will help researchers track the hot spots.
Written by Libby Cohen.