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Preserving The Monarch Butterflies

Protecting The Monarch Butterfly  Spotting locations

The last several years have caused concern among scientists who focus their studies on Lepidoptera (moths and butterflies). Monarch butterflies had been rapidly shrinking in numbers as adverse weather and immediately diminishing habitats threatened their natural migration.

Last year new hope presented itself in Mexico for the Monarchs. As the numbers of overwintering butterflies were significantly higher than in the years before.

The Mexican Monarch Population

Best Monarch Spotting LocationsThe World Wildlife Fund announced the Monarchs took up ten acres of park land in Mexico. Which is three times as much land as last year?

These orange and black butterflies leave their homes in Canada and the United States. To make the flight into Mexico where they reside. During Winter months, as the weather up North is too cold for them to survive.

Monarchs begin arriving in Mexico in late October and stay in the forests of Mexico State and Michoacán State. The Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve is one of the top locations for the butterfly spotting once they have reached Mexico.

The Flight Southward

Butterfly Spotting LocationsThe butterflies that leave their homes in the North to arrive in Mexico. They  are not the same butterflies from the beginning of the journey. Along their migration, the Monarchs breed, and their offspring does the same.

It takes four generations to complete the migration during the estimation. It is a mysterious instinct that leads the butterflies to their destination. But studies show that the offspring will typically follow the same flight patterns as their ancestors.

Milkweed is a plant that is poisonous to most of the Monarch’s natural predators. So the Monarch mothers will only leave their eggs to hatch on this individual plant. Milkweed had been sparse in years leading up to this one, and thus that had contributed to the dwindling number of Monarch butterflies.

For a while, Milkweed is the only plant the caterpillars will eat, though the young Monarch butterflies. Enjoy feasting on nectar-bearing plants like asters too. Before flying over large bodies of water, butterflies will fuel up on nectar and rest before waiting for a cold front to carry them Southward.

Not all Monarchs end their journey in Mexico; some Monarchs from the Western United States will spend their Winter months in California. Their mild coastal breezes and Eucalyptus trees present a good atmosphere for butterflies to congregate from Mid-October until February.

  The Causes And Solutions For The Decline

Unfavorable weather patterns, pesticides, and illegal logging on Mexican land are just a few of the leading causes. Thought to have resulted from the drop in Monarch populations.

Insects are among the most fragile of animals that are susceptible to unfavorable environmental changes. So it is easy to understand why the Monarch populations were drastically declining.

Efforts can make to correct and rectify the results that are finally starting to be positive again. The Mexican population of Monarchs was thirty-five million just two years ago; locations this year reported a surprising one hundred forty million.

Better weather has been thought to play a huge role in the rebound for the beautiful insects as well as the work put in by the US and Mexican governments.

In the United States efforts are being made to replace around seven and a half million acres of milkweed at locations nationwide. Citizens are urged to plant more milkweed as well as to discontinue the use of unnecessary pesticides that can kill the plant.

Milkweed production increased by around two hundred fifty thousand acres since the previous year. The Center for Biological Diversity petitioned the Fish and Wildlife Service to give the Monarchs a “threatened” classification.

That would propel a recovery program that needs to happen before it’s too late. Some scientists believe that a repeat storm like the one from 2002 could be devastating to the Monarch population.

The weather conditions in 2002 killed off an approximate five hundred million butterflies, fortunately at a time when there were significantly more butterflies than today. Since the numbers are weak already, a repeat occurrence could be the end for the already vulnerable butterflies.

The Mexican government has long had trouble overseeing its forest locations where the butterflies go to live during months when the cold weather would kill them if they stayed up North.

It’s illegal to cut down trees in these areas, but indigenous people ignore the laws and chop down the wood to survive and earn a living. Profepa is the governing agency over these forests, and recently they have been passing out equipment and uniforms to local farmers in hopes that they will partner in guarding the reserve where the butterflies stay.

The butterflies will cluster together at night in the pine and fir trees located on this one hundred forty thousand acre piece of land, so even with hundreds of new “watchers”, it will still be hard to stop all the illegal logging in this humongous butterfly spotting territory.

The Canadian Government has labeled the Monarch butterflies as having a status of “special concern.” In 2013, scientists were alarmed because of the almost complete absence of Monarchs at Point Pelee Park in Ontario.

There is one of the most popular butterfly spotting locations in North America. Because usually in October of ever year thousands of butterflies funnel together to the Southernmost point before taking off over Lake Erie.

The “special concern” assessment had taken effect before the Endangered Species Act became legal in 2008. At Point Pelee, they now tag select butterflies and release them for additional research.

 Why Preserving The Monarchs Is So Important

There has been a decrease globally in pollinators such as bees and butterflies in recent years, and the decline is alarming. Hobbyists who enjoy butterfly spotting are not the only people who will be affected. If continued recession occurs in the Monarch population.

These wild pollinators are responsible for a third of the food consumed every day. While It is lots of talk about in the news regarding the disappointment. That one of the most miraculous animal migrations in the world and could be coming to an end. There is a scarier consequence to the loss of the Monarchs – less food.


One Comment

  1. Jerry Hipfner
    Jerry Hipfner July 25, 2019

    In recent years we have been allowing milkweed to grow in our flower beds. Just today we have seen a butterfly caterpillar on one of the plants. The plants are close to the sidewalk in front of our house and we are hoping that passers-by will not disturb it.

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