Agricultural Pesticides Found in Monarch Habitat

Researchers at Purdue University are investigating the role that pesticides in their milkweed habitat might play in the population decline of the monarch butterfly. The team collected milkweed leaves across Indiana, and found 14 pesticides–four insecticides, four herbicides and six fungicides–of varying concentrations. The contaminants were strongest early in the season, varied annually, and decreased further from farm fields, although some contamination persisted past the 125-foot buffer area from farm fields that is generally considered safe for planting monarch habitat. Next, the researchers will conduct toxicity experiments to determine whether neonicotinoids and other pesticides are harming monarch populations.