Both honey bee and monarch butterfly numbers have declined, and at the Jan. 31 Waunakee Rotary meeting, Dave Hogg, professor emeritus of entomology from UW-Madison, shed some light on why.
Hogg’s interest in insects began as a child, when he collected butterflies, and he pursued this throughout his studies at Purdue University, U.C. Berkeley and as a professor first at Mississippi State and then the UW.
His research applied more to insect pests and agricultural crops, but along the way, Hogg began keeping bees. He also works on monarch butterfly conservation.
Honey bees are not native to North America, he said, They have the most social skills of all bees and can communicate with one another with a dance they do.
More honey bees are dying due to colony collapse, a disorder that showed up between 20-25 years ago. Worker bees who go out to gather nectar forget where their hive was. Hogg explained that they have kind of a GPS system, and the bees were losing their short-term memory.
Some theorize that pesticides are to blame. A parasitic mite is also a problem. But Hogg believes stress plays a large role, too.
Bees are transported long distances to pollinate crops, and those large honey producers get hit with colony collapse, he said.
As an example, Hogg said in the central valley of California, 90 percent of the almonds in the United States is grown. Beekeepers from Texas and Florida drive the hives there to begin the pollination.
Monarch butterflies spend time in Canada, the United States and Mexico, and undergo an amazing migration. Their roosting site is within an eight-mile forested Mexican mountain peak.
Their population is also in jeopardy, partly because the site in Mexico is being deforested. That opens the canopy and changes the micro climate.
Loss of habitat in the United States, including milkweed and other nectar sources, is a cause.
Why should we care about their numbers?
Hogg said if we’re losing monarchs, we’re probably losing other insects.
“The monarch is probably the canary in the coal mine,” he said.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will soon issue a decision as to whether the monarch should be listed as an endangered species, Hogg said.
Currently, a Wisconsin monarch collaboration is underway to help monarchs. Municipalities, such as Waunakee, have also taken a Mayor’s Monarch Pledge and are working on programs to restore the butterflies’ habitat.
Other News:
-Randy Guttenberg and Greg Garton, the greeters, gave their 90 seconds of fame. Randy is from Monroe and met his wife in the seventh grade. They have five daughters, ranging in age from 23-9. The superintendent of the Waunakee school district, Randy was formerly superintendent in Montello, and prior to that was a teacher and principal at Baraboo.
Anytime he can get kids and students involved with Rotary is a highlight, he said.
Greg was advised to join Waunakee Rotary by a professor when he was working on MBA. Fellow Rotarian Al Langeteig got him involved in banking. A Rotarian since 1997, Greg served as president in 2005-06, and as past president, helped reinstate the student exchange program. He and his wife, Heidi, have been married for 28 and live on Lake Wisconsin.
– Don Tierney received his second Harris Fellow. Nice work, Don!
– The Lodi Rotary Club will host its beer and wine event Feb. 8 at the Waddle Inn.
–Tickets are available for the Super Raffle. See John Cullen.
–President Mark McFarland informed the club that Joe Olson and Alison Feldbruegge have resigned.
Guests: Two guests of Ray and Harriet Statz.
Visiting Rotarians: None.
Birthdays: Feb. 11, Phil Willems.
Anniversaries: None.
Greeters: Jan. 31, Greg Garton and Randy Guttenberg; Feb. 7, Rich Harris and Travis Heiser; Feb. 14, Don Hoffman and Mick Holm.