Wednesday, November 26, 2008

More Animal News

Photo credit: AP / Mike Parwana

The AP reported Friday about a surprising repair.

A monarch butterfly has a chance at completing its species' famed migration to central Mexico, thanks to some tiny cardboard splints, a bit of contact cement and a trucker from Alabama.

About three weeks ago, Jeannette Brandt was out for a bike ride in rural Hadley when she spied the injured butterfly and took it home in her emptied water bottle.

She and her partner, Mike Parwana, fed it rotting pears and water mixed with honey from bees they keep. The butterfly fattened but the question remained: What about the broken wing?

A search of the Internet turned up a nine-minute video demonstration posted by the Live Monarch Foundation, a nonprofit group from Boca Raton, Fla., on how to fix a broken butterfly wing. A little contact cement on the wing, some tiny cardboard splints, and the bruised butterfly was back in business.

"It was still weak. It was another week or so before it would fly," Parwana told the Post-Star newspaper of Glens Falls.

On Sunday, the couple took the healed monarch in a shoebox to Scotty's, a popular and busy truck stop about 55 kilometres north of Albany. Anybody looking for company on the trip south?

Eventually, a trucker from Alabama, on his way to Florida, raised his hand.

On Tuesday, the trucker called: The butterfly was loose in Florida with its mended wing.

Great news for the butterfly.

Now here's a chance for people who want to help the animal kingdom themselves. The Daily Mail (UK) reported today that British scientists are calling for volunteers to help with a census.

They might be slimy, slithery and wriggly - but according to Darwin, worms are one of the most important creatures on earth.

And with their habitats increasingly under threat, volunteers are being asked to help with an earthworm 'census'.

The £500,000 project will see amateur scientists pouring mustard - a mild irritant to worms - on their flowerbeds. They can then identify any disgruntled (but otherwise unharmed) specimens which surface.

The collated results will be used to shed light on one of Britain's most common, but also most poorly understood, creatures.

Organisers also hope to identify rare species which could be on the brink of extinction.

Oh, won't you help? If you can't help now, maybe you can help later.

A future Opal project will ask volunteers to look out for tar spot fungus on tree leaves and lichen to help monitor air pollution.

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