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Monarchs: Science and Story

news story photo
Danaus plexippus, from American Entomology, by Thomas Say (New York, 1869); illustrated by T. R. Peale.

If the gorgeous weather saw you hiking the hills around Cornell last month, you’ll quite likely have seen blooms of monarch butterfly caterpillars feasting on the stalky milkweed ubiquitous to the fields, pastures, and roadsides across much of North America. Fast forward to early October, and the butterflies coming out of that final round of summer chrysalides are now beating their orange wings across the ripening fall landscape of a wide swathe of eastern North America in one of the most intriguing phenomena of the North American insect world: The mass migration of hundred of thousands from the open fields of Canada and the U.S. to a handful of wooded hilltops in south central Mexico.

For all their bold beauty, monarchs remain somewhat mysterious creatures of our natural world. There's quite a bit that we know--thanks in part to the work of some intrepid scientists and watchful citizen scientists who first documented the fact of monarch migration in the 1970s. And there's quite a bit that we have yet to understand well, particularly as monarchs face their own set of challenges in a climate-changing world. So, we're thinking there's no better time than now to flash a bit of showiness of our own here at the Library, with a spotlight on some of the cool treasures you can find in our various collections to explore some of this unfolding story. Our celebration includes:

Select titles from the book display:

Agrawal, Anurag A. Monarchs and Milkweed: a Migrating Butterfly, a Poisonous Plant, and Their Remarkable Story of Coevolution. Princeton University Press, 2017.

Arndt, Ingo, et al. Nomads of the Wind: the Migration of the Monarch Butterfly and Other Wonders of the Butterfly World. Papadakis, 2008.

Braudeau, Michel. The Flight of the Monarch and Other Reflections. G. Braziller, 2004.

Brewer, Jo. Wings in the Meadow. Houghton Mifflin, 1967.

Burris, Judy, and Wayne Richards. The Life Cycles of Butterflies: from Egg to Maturity, a Visual Guide to 23 Common Garden Butterflies. Storey Pub., 2006.

Cooper, Caren B. Citizen Science: How Ordinary People Are Changing the Face of Discovery. First edition., The Overlook Press, 2016.

Grace, Eric S. The Nature of Monarch Butterflies: Beauty Takes Flight. Greystone Books, 1997.

Halpern, Sue. Four Wings and a Prayer: Caught in the Mystery of the Monarch Butterfly. Pantheon Books, 2001.

Laufer, Peter. The Dangerous World of Butterflies: the Startling Subculture of Criminals, Collectors, and Conservationists. Lyons Press, 2009.

Letourneau, Deborah Kay., and Beth Elpern. Burrows, editors. Genetically Engineered Organisms: Assessing Environmental and Human Health Effects.  CRC Press, 2002.

Oberhauser, Karen Suzanne, et al., editors. Monarchs in a Changing World: Biology and Conservation of an Iconic Butterfly. Comstock Publishing Associates, a division of Cornell University Press, 2015.

Oberhauser, Karen Suzanne., and Michelle J. Solensky, editors. Monarch Butterfly Biology & Conservation. Comstock Pub. Associates/Cornell University Press, 2004.

Pyle, Robert Michael. Chasing Monarchs: Migrating with the Butterflies of Passage. Houghton Mifflin Co., 1999.

Schappert, Phillip Joseph. The Last Monarch Butterfly: Conserving the Monarch Butterfly in a Brave New World. Firefly Books, 2004.

Todd, David, et al. The Texas Landscape Project: Nature and People. First edition., Texas A&M University Press, 2016

United States Agricultural Research Service. Butterflies and Bt Corn: Allowing Science to Guide Decisions. Agricultural Research Service, USDA, 2002.

Urquhart, Fred A. The Monarch Butterfly: International Traveler.  Nelson-Hall, 1987.QL561.N9 U79 1987