A Kingdom for a Monarch.
by Mark Duckworth (continued).

While the Monarchs' original haunts in the U.S. and Mexico may be under threat, because of their ability to fly enormous distances and their sheer tenacity of life, they are now spreading across the globe. There is some evidence that Monarchs existing in equatorial parts of South America move into more arid areas during the wet season, but are forced back as the searing heat destroys the vegetation. During the last century, carried by freak storms, as stowaways, or just by flying off course, they reached Australia, New Zealand and the East Indies. Hawaii and the Pacific Islands have been colonised by the butterflies, which have been seen to alight on calm water, as they "island-hop" to further their territory. They are thought to have arrived in the Azores and Canary Islands, carried by the prevailing winds and now have established colonies in Spain and the southern Mediterranean.

The Monarchs' ability to colonise new areas is dependent on the availability of its food plant. However, this is not the only factor affecting its spread thoughout the globe. Monarchs have been sighted in Britain, the first recorded sighting being on 6th September, 1876 at Neath, South Wales, with three more observed that year. There have since been many more sightings, even as far north as the Shetlands, with peak numbers coinciding with rare migratory American birds also being blown off-course during bad weather. Although Asclepias can be grown in Britain as a garden plant,  Monarchs will remain rare visitors to Britain due to the harsh climate. In 1981, there was one report of Monarch pseudo-wild stock, when a mated female, possibly an escapee from a London Butterfly House, laid eggs on Asclepias plants at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.  To protect the stock, it was reared to maturity indoors.  The Monarch butterfly has proved itself to be one of the most successful butterflies in the world. It has travelled across oceans to colonise new lands and is viewed as a welcome visitor. It overcomes adverse weather conditions by migration and is generally capable of enduring the "El Nino Event". However, it is the American and Mexican people of the present, who must ensure that future generations have the chance to see the butterfly so admired by their ancestors.   
Mark D Duckworth.


I would like to thank the following people for their help in the production of this report:

Robert Goodden (Worldlife/Worldwide Butterflies U.K.) for initial information and advice; Dr. "Chip" Taylor (Prof. of Entomology, University of Kansas, Lawrence U.S.A.) for providing information on snow mortality; Jane Warr (BBC News London U.K.) for her advice on research and compilation; Kathleen Mayo-Brombar (P.V.S.C. Washington D.C.  U.S.A.) for providing news material in her usual fast, professional manner, and all my friends and colleagues who collectively made this report possible.


Brower, Lincoln P (1996)  Prof. of Ent    University of Florida, Gainesville U.S.A.

Gray, William.Prof. (climate forecaster) Savage Skies. (1996)    Granada Television.

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Taylor, Dr. Orley R. "Chip" (1996) Prof. of Ent.    University of Kansas    U.S.A.


A.B.C.  World Report.(3/1/96)                                            A.B.C. News U.S.A.

Aridjis, Homero. Brower, Lincoln P. (1996)  Twilight of the Monarchs.  New York Times  (edition of January 26)                    New York Times International. U.S.A.

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Encyclopedia of Butterflies and Moths,            Macdonald and Co. ,London

Daily Mail Foreign Service (1996)  Killer chill catches the butterflies napping                Daily Mail (edition of January 5)                                              Daily Mail, London 
Preston, Julia  (1996)  Monarch Butterflies Killed in Snow. New York Times International  (edition of January 2)            New York Times International. U.S.A.

Mikula, Pam. (1996)  Monarch Population Plummets in Mexico
Posted in The Butterfly WebSite        http://mgfx.com/butterfly/articles/mexico.htm

O' Toole, Christopher (1995) Alien Empire,                                BBC Publications

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Watson, Allan. Whalley, Paul E.S.  Duckworth, W. Donald (1983)  The
Dictionary of Butterflies and Moths,  Peerage Books

Text and main picture - Mark Duckworth.
Page & Site design - Paul W Batty.
Published by the Entomological Livestock Group 1999.


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