Something unbelievable has happened to the monarch butterfly population. Due to the extreme climate conditions, the loss of milkweed habitat in the United States and Canada, and deforestation of Mexico, the monarchs’ status dropped to below the 2017-2018 levels.
Illegal logging in the monarchs’ wintering grounds rose to almost 13.4 hectares (33 acres). Plus, wind storms, drought, beetles, and disease caused the loss of another 6.9 hectares (17 acres) in the reserve. In addition, the butterflies are looking for water since the forests are dry from the drought. They look for water at the lower level of the slopes, leaving the warmth of the pine and fir trees in the upper level.
What Can You Do to Help?
Habitat loss, particularly the host plant milkweed, pesticide and herbicide use, as well as climate change, all pose threats to the species’ migration.
Reference The Amazing Monarch Migration. Monarchs need milkweed for the spring, and during the summer and fall migration, the adults need nectar. They use asters, meadow blazingstar, coneflowers, black-eyed Susans, beebalm, and other native flowers (as well as some non-native ones). The efforts to create, maintain, enhance, and protect habitat for monarchs and pollinators can make a difference. Creating and maintaining habitat, educating others, contributing data to citizen science programs, and advocating for the protection of wild spaces are things we all can do.
The e-mail photo is by Wendy Caldwell.