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

Anurag Agrawal

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Hardback

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Princeton University Press
15 March 2017
Evolution; Plant ecology; Animal ecology; Wildlife: butterflies, other insects & spiders
The fascinating and complex evolutionary relationship of the monarch butterfly and the milkweed plant Monarch butterflies are one of nature's most recognizable creatures, known for their bright colors and epic annual migration from the United States and Canada to Mexico. Yet there is much more to the monarch than its distinctive presence and mythic journeying. In Monarchs and Milkweed, Anurag Agrawal presents a vivid investigation into how the monarch butterfly has evolved closely alongside the milkweed--a toxic plant named for the sticky white substance emitted when its leaves are damaged--and how this inextricable and intimate relationship has been like an arms race over the millennia, a battle of exploitation and defense between two fascinating species. The monarch life cycle begins each spring when it deposits eggs on milkweed leaves. But this dependency of monarchs on milkweeds as food is not reciprocated, and milkweeds do all they can to poison or thwart the young monarchs. Agrawal delves into major scientific discoveries, including his own pioneering research, and traces how plant poisons have not only shaped monarch-milkweed interactions but have also been culturally important for centuries. Agrawal presents current ideas regarding the recent decline in monarch populations, including habitat destruction, increased winter storms, and lack of milkweed--the last one a theory that the author rejects. He evaluates the current sustainability of monarchs and reveals a novel explanation for their plummeting numbers. Lavishly illustrated with more than eighty color photos and images, Monarchs and Milkweed takes readers on an unforgettable exploration of one of nature's most important and sophisticated evolutionary relationships.
By:   Anurag Agrawal
Imprint:   Princeton University Press
Country of Publication:   United States
Dimensions:   Height: 229mm,  Width: 178mm,  Spine: 28mm
Weight:   964g
ISBN:   9780691166353
ISBN 10:   0691166358
Pages:   296
Publication Date:   15 March 2017
Audience:   General/trade ,  College/higher education ,  ELT Advanced ,  Primary
Format:   Hardback
Publisher's Status:   Unspecified

Anurag Agrawal is a professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and the Department of Entomology at Cornell University. He lives in Ithaca, New York.

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

A lively, highly informative introduction to significant research in ecology that highlights the importance of conserving our natural habitats. --Kirkus This comprehensive and colorful illustrated study of monarch biology and behavior ... offers another reason to admire the versatile insect: its long and successful symbiotic relationship with the otherwise toxic milkweed plant... Agrawal's book will appeal not only to butterfly enthusiasts but also to the environmentally aware and all readers who appreciate solidly written and accessible popular science. --Booklist


  • Commended for 2018 PROSE Award in Popular Science & Popular Mathematics, Association of American Publishers 2018
  • Long-listed for 2018 AAAS/Subaru SB&F Prizes for Excellence in Science Books, Young Adult Science Books 2018
  • Short-listed for Forbes.com's 10 Best Biology Books of 2017, chosen by GrrlScientist 2017
  • Winner of 2017 National Outdoor Book Award in Nature and Environment 2017

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