Researchers in Emilie Snell-Rood’s lab tagged and released 2,500 monarch butterflies last fall to better understand how exposure to road salt affects their flight, migratory behavior, and survival.
Monarchs lay their eggs on milkweed, which is found in ditches where salt accumulates. When the eggs hatch, the caterpillars feed on that milkweed. “Small amounts of sodium can be beneficial because it’s a micronutrient, but large amounts are toxic,” says Snell-Rood, an associate professor in the College of Biological Sciences.
Money raised through crowdfunding will help send two team members to the monarchs’ wintering ground in Mexico to track the tagged butterflies.