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This Time Of Year, Butterfly Roadkill Is A Thing In Texas

Caroline Covington/Texas Standard
During migration season, monarch butterflies can be hard to avoid while driving down Texas highways, especially in parts of South Texas.

From Texas Standard:

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.

Laura first joined the KUT team in April 2012. She now works for the statewide program Texas Standard as a reporter and producer. Laura came to KUT from the world of television news. She has worn many different hats as an anchor, reporter and producer at TV stations in Austin, Amarillo and Toledo, OH. Laura is a proud graduate of the University of Missouri-Columbia, a triathlete and enjoys travel, film and a good beer. She enjoys spending time with her husband and pets.
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