Biologist biking with butterflies to track migration from Mexico to Canada and back

Sara Dykman follows the monarchs on their annual journey, teaching about butterflies along the way

CBC News Posted: Aug 18, 2017

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Sara Dykman is biking from Mexico to Canada and back to ‘speak for the monarch’ butterfly population, that’s declined in recent years. (Darlene Burgess )

Sara Dykman is biking with monarch butterflies, following them from Mexico to Canada and back again, a journey of almost 16,000 kilometres.

As co-ordinator of Beyond a Book, an adventure-linked education project, Dykman is ‘butter-biking’ to raise awareness about the species’ declining population and stopping along the way to speak.

“I’m doing this to be a voice for the monarchs,” she said.

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On her way Sara Dykman is stopped at schools and nature centres so help educate on ways to save the monarch. (Supplied/beyondabook.org)

A voice for the monarchs

Dykman wants to raise awareness across North America about the dropping numbers of monarchs in recent years, and ask people to get out in their gardens and help.

“I have always loved adventure, and I love connecting my adventure,” to education she said.

Most of her talks right now are aimed “to encourage people to be part of the solution, to plant milkweed and native nectar plant,” the primary food for monarch caterpillars and butterflies.

‘It’ll only spread the more people are part of the progress.’– Sara Dykman, Beyond a Book

Stopping at schools, community centres, and nature centres, Dykman shares her journey and experience with students and other enthusiasts.

The simple solution she offers is something Dykman hopes people will take to heart and pass on.

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Dykman is cycling 16,000 kilometres across 3 countries to follow the migration route. (Supplied/beyondabook.org)

“The monarch is kind of on the mind’s of everyone, even if it’s just a subtle thing,” she said.

“It’ll only spread the more people are part of the progress.”

Butterflies, Bed and Breakfast

Dykman has found support for her journey across North America in a network of ‘monarch enthusiasts’ who’ve been offering her places to stay.

“People are taking care of me here in Ontario,” she said.

“The thing that the monarch and I have in common is that the people who are planting the garden, the people speaking to the monarch, are the same people that invite me in and give me a place to stay.”

But unlike the monarchs, Dykman will likely not reach Mexico in the next few weeks.

“The ones born in Ontario in your backyards are the ones that will be going all the way back to the same trees that their great grandparents have lived on,” she said.

“Fortunately or unfortunately, they’re faster than me.”

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