Experts first began noticing a decline in the monarch butterfly population approximately ten years ago. Each year the monarch butterflies travel together from Canada to their winter shelter in the mountaintop fir forests of central Mexico, but these same experts recently announced that this year’s numbers have collapsed dramatically, and they are sounding the alarm bells.
CBC NEWS reports, “The number of Monarch butterflies making it to their winter refuge in Mexico dropped 59% this year, falling to the lowest level since comparable record-keeping began 20 years ago, scientists reported Wednesday. [The decline] in the Monarch population now marks a statistical long-term trend and can no longer be seen as a combination of yearly or seasonal events, the experts said. But they differed on the possible causes. Illegal logging in the reserve established in the Monarch wintering grounds was long thought to contribute, but such logging has been vastly reduced by increased protection, enforcement and alternative development programs in Mexico. The World Wildlife Fund, one of the groups that sponsored the butterfly census, blamed climate conditions and agricultural practices, especially the use of pesticides that kill off the Monarchs’ main food source, milkweed. The butterflies breed and live in the north in the summer, and migrate to Mexico in the winter. ‘The decrease of Monarch butterflies … probably is due to the negative effects of reduction in milkweed and extreme variation in the United States and Canada,’ the fund and its partner organizations said in a statement.”
You can read the entire report by visiting CBC.ca. Earlier this morning The New York Times published a terrific op-ed piece entitled “The Winter Of The Monarch” written by Lincoln P. Brower and Homero Aridjis, and I strongly encourage you to read it and forward it to as many friends and family as you possibly can. You can read it in full at NYTimes.com. If you want to learn how to help save the monarch butterfly you can get all the information at MonarchWatch.org.