The Ottumwa Courier

Local News

December 4, 2013

Fewer meals for monarchs

OTTUMWA — If you enjoy watching the migration of the monarch butterfly, you might be out of luck.

Nature researchers say even everyday butterfly watchers are noticing a massive decrease in the number of monarchs they see.

Alicia Houk teaches environmental science at Indian Hills Community College.

"Last year was the biggest drop ever measured," Houk said, adding that this does not appear to be one of those natural fluctuations sometimes seen in statistics.

She said scientists worry that numbers of monarchs are dropping so fast, one of Iowa's favorites may be heading toward the endangered species list. And even if the species survives, their visits to Iowa may come to a halt.

Annette Wittrock, the naturalist for the Wapello County Conservation Board, has noticed the same thing.

"Their numbers are definitely dropping, and there's concern out there as to whether they'll recover," she said.

Houk said one of the most interesting parts of the monarch life is also contributing to the danger they face: a migration that can be more than 2,000 miles.

They start in the mountain forests of Mexico and fly north, to about Texas. They lay eggs on milkweed — and then die of old age. The generation born in Texas is the group that makes it to Iowa. In Iowa, again, those butterflies lay eggs on milkweed, then we see those brand-new butterflies head toward Canada. And though they haven't figured out how, those Iowa-born butterflies know to leave Canada and head to the same forest their great-grandparents left several generations earlier.

Houk's research has led her and others to believe the danger to monarchs comes from something Iowans consider positive: improved agriculture. As new plant hybrids come on the market, farmers can safely blast their fields with herbicide. And that herbicide is kind to beans, deadly to weeds.

Text Only
Local News
  • The Art of Kong OTTUMWA — The Mona Lisa. Whistler's Mother. Donkey Kong? Don't be so surprised, said Walter Day, that video games and the surrounding memorabilia are being considered art. The creativity and artistic vision required to create a poster, said the found

    July 28, 2014

  • Slideshow: Truck overturns on roundabout

    July 28, 2014

  • 0729 OTT Picture veteran -T -M Veteran finally receives his medals OTTUMWA — A World War II injury may have saved the life of a U.S. Coast Guardsman from Iowa, but he lost friends and a box of military awards. Francis Hardy Harbour was born on Dec.16, 1919, in Drakesville. He joined the Coast Guard in 1941 as a mach

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Seasonal forecast Cool summer leading to cool fall? OTTUMWA — By late July, the average daytime high temperature starts to drop. What is normally the hottest part of the year is over. Averages are still in the mid-80s, and it certainly wouldn’t be out of the ordinary to see days in even the upper 90s.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Grant helps Hills keep students on track OTTUMWA — Thanks to a grant designed to improve graduation rates, Indian Hills Community College now has even more tools in its campuswide effort to help students with needs and give them the resources they need to stay in class. Indian Hills is one

    July 28, 2014

  • 0728 OTT ribs in eldon BBQ dinner with a hundred friends

    ELDON --- This year's Eldon Rib Cook-off was won by three BBQ chefs --- and about 150 hungry visitors. "I was down here last year, too," said Dwayne Yates from Floris, who was biting into his third smoked rib. "I never had a bad one yet." That's what

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • Mediacom: Rural cable consumers and companies mistreated OTTUMWA --- You may want to add just a racing channel, a court channel or a nature channel to your cable line up. Unfortunately, you'll probably have to buy a "bundle," which, ironically, is what it will cost you here in Wapello County. That's accord

    July 26, 2014

  • Alternate juror could not have convicted Techel based on evidence DAVENPORT — An alternate juror who was dismissed before Seth Techel, 23, of Agency was convicted of killing his wife and the non-consensual termination of a human pregnancy says the verdict could have been different if she had been in deliberations.D

    July 25, 2014

  • Overcome testing fear, get a good job OTTUMWA — It's not who you know, it's what you know. That's what City leaders say about getting a good paying job in Ottumwa. "It seems like in the last year we've had a real reduction in the number of individuals who've applied," said Joni Keith, hu

    July 25, 2014

  • Water Pollution Control Facility gets OK to upgrade OTTUMWA — An emergency Ottumwa City Council meeting resulted in spending $140,583 for the Water Pollution Control Facility. Friday afternoon, council members listened intently as Ottumwa Water Pollution Control Facility Superintendent Kam Reeves told

    July 25, 2014

Photo reprints


Obituaries

Facebook