Resident monarchs in southwest Florida: viable populations or vectors of disease? The Southwest Florida Monarch monitoring program.
This paper summarizes the significance of non-migratory monarch (Danaus plexippus) populations, citizen scientist efforts in southwest Florida (USA) to tag resident monarch populations and test them for the parasite Ophryocystis elektroscirrha (OE), and discusses the potential link between an exotic milkweed species (Asclepias curassavica) and increased prevalence of OE in Florida monarch populations. This paper also provides an overview of tagging efforts to date, preliminary observations, and invites further collaboration with others interested in aspects of monarch biology and conservation. Resident monarch populations in southwest Florida may be evolutionary adaptated to human activities, but additional data are required to determine if planting tropical milkweed will be detrimental, or ultimately help conserve one of North America's most iconic butterfly species.