Monarchs and Milkweed A Migrating Butterfly, a Poisonous Plant, and Their Remarkable Story of Coevolution

Book Talk by Anurag Agrawal

Thursday, April 13, at 4:00pm

Mann Library, Stern Seminar Room 160 Known for their bright colors and epic annual migration from the United States and Canada to Mexico, monarch butterflies are beautiful but complicated creatures of nature. Facing mounting challenges in today’s environment, Anurag Agrawal presents a detailed investigation into how the monarch butterfly’s relationship has evolved to coexist with the incredibly toxic milkweed in his new book Monarchs and Milkweed (Princeton University Press; April 11, 2017).

This inextricable and intimate relationship has been like an arms race over the millennia. In a Chats in the Stacks book talk hosted by Mann Library, Agrawal will discuss his recent scientific discoveries that reveal a battle of exploitation and defense between these two fascinating species.

Each spring, the monarch life cycle begins when it deposits eggs on the leaves, and even though the plants do all they can to poison the predators, the larvae appear to feed exclusively on them. The milky sap poisons contained in leaves and stems have not only shaped monarch-milkweed interactions but have been culturally important for centuries. The new book reviews current ideas regarding the recent decline in monarch populations, the influence of habitat destruction, and his own theories as to why their numbers are plummeting.

Anurag Agrawal is professor of ecology and evolutionary biology in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and the College of Arts and Sciences at Cornell University.

Buffalo Street Books will offer books for purchase and signing.  Refreshments served.  Free and open to all.


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Monarch and Milkweed flyer/book cover photo