The concern about the disappearance of monarch butterflies has intensified. In the northern spring of 2013, conservation organizations reported that the amount of Mexican forest the butterflies occupied was at its lowest in 20 years. The World Wildlife Fund, in partnership with a Mexican wireless company and Mexico’s National Commission of Protected Areas, found nine hibernating colonies occupied almost 3 acres during the 2012-13 winter, a 59% decrease from the previous winter. Illegal logging in the Mexican forests, where the butterflies spend the winter, is being blamed for the shrinking acreage. Climate change is also thought to contributing to the butterfly population crash; it is causing the disappearance of milkweed, the only plant on which monarchs lay their eggs and on which their caterpillars feed. Monarch butterfly populations are known and loved for their beauty and long-distance migrations. Follow the links below to learn more about monarch butterflies.
An August 22, 2013 article in USAToday discusses ongoing fears that the monarch butterfly population may be crashing. The information above came from USAToday’s article.
Bottom line: Monarch butterfly habitat in Mexican forests is at a 20-year low, due, it’s thought, to illegal logging. Climate change may also be contributing to the butterflies’ demise.
Deborah Byrd created the EarthSky radio series in 1991 and EarthSky.org in 1994. Today, she serves as Editor-in-Chief of this website. She has won a galaxy of awards from the broadcasting and science communities, including having an asteroid named 3505 Byrd in her honor. A science communicator and educator since 1976, Byrd believes in science as a force for good in the world and a vital tool for the 21st century. "Being an EarthSky editor is like hosting a big global party for cool nature-lovers," she says.