Pat Shingleton: "Collecting Ice and the Monarchs..."
We're not expecting an icy weather but there should be a return to some snappy weather next Monday. Years ago ice houses were built near freshwater lakes and streams where winter ice was available. During the winter months, ice and snow would be transported into the ice house and packed with sawdust or straw for insulation that would last into the summer months. Archaeologists have discovered ice pits from the seventh century and Alexander the Great stored snow in pits. In the third century, Rome imported mountain snow, stored it in straw-covered pits and later sold it in snow shops. The more expensive ice was at the bottom of pit compared to the snow at the top. In Texas, former ice houses have been converted to bars. From ice to butterflies. Monarchs are one of the most common North American butterflies with black-edged wings and a bright reddish-brown body. They reproduce several times in areas from Texas to Minnesota. At the beginning of Fall their migration begins as they fly from the Canadian border to mountain groves west of Mexico City. Here is where the Oyamel firs provide shelter from rain and temperatures that dip below freezing. In the spring they fly north, visiting Baton Rouge and stopping at fields of milkweed to lay eggs. In January of 2002 about 80 percent of the monarch population died when falling temps caused rain to form ice crystals. Scientists have predicted an increase in global temperatures by a few degrees over the next century. This increase could activate more ocean evaporation therefore increasing rainfall in central Mexico. With more rain and persistent cold a massive die-off of the Monarchs could occur.