Missing Monarchs

Monarch_In_May A population of Butterflies as strong as one billion in 1996 is today down to its last thirty million. The increased use of herbicides and the ever decreasing amount of prairie land is in many ways responsible for this loss. Monarch Butterflies require Milkweed plants, in fact they almost feed exclusively on Milkweed, to sustain them on their epic journey from as far as Canada into Mexico and California in order to avoid cold winter climes further north.

Similar disruption to other habitats has caused the loss of the Blueberry-coloured Xerces Blue from San Francisco when sand dune habitats were commercially developed. Several other species of butterfly are also missing, although not confirmed extinct, the Rockland Skipper and Zestos haven’t been observed in South Florida since 2004. Although it may be too late for these species to recover it is certainly not too late for the Monarch. The population, though a shadow of its former self, is still viable. The confirmation of a $3.2 million conservation budget by the Fish and Wildlife Service offers a ray of hope. Investment of this money in the provision of more Milkweed and the conservation of the prairies may be enough to bring the Monarch back from the edge. Sources

  1. National Geographic
  2. Washington Post

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