State of the Population: A Very Fragile Situation
The Monarch population is on a steady decline. Looking at five-year averages, it is clear that the population is in trouble:
1994 – 1998 average: 10.54 hectares
1999 – 2003 average: 7.97 hectares
2004 – 2008 average: 4.89 hectares
2009 – 2013 average: 2.14 hectares
Why Is the Population Declining?
- Loss of milkweed and nectar plant due to development
- Loss of milkweed due to use of “Round-up Ready” seed crops through the Midwest
- Drought through the Midwest
- Forest decline in Mexico due to logging
Chip Taylor of Monarch Watch gave a terrific talk explaining the plight of the Monarch:
Lincoln Brower explains the situation via this podcast as well. Click on the link on this page to listen.
Articles worth reading (a Google search will provide countless more but here are a few):
Mexico Sees Steep Drop in Migrating Monarch Butterflies, Feb. 10, 2017
Monarch Migration Plunges to Lowest in Years, March 14, 2013
The Winter of the Monarch, by Lincoln Brower and Homero Aridjis, March 15, 2013
Americans Would Pay $4 Billion To Save Monarch Butterflies, November 5, 2013
Should We Care? Yes!
An indicator of a larger issue: Pollinators in general are declining. Monarchs serve as a canary in the coal mine.
A Great Migration is slipping away: To lose a great migration under our watch would be a shame – what will our kids say about our generation?
A Gateway in: Monarchs can act as a gateway in to the natural world, teaching us about plants, other insects, birds, mammals and more.
Monarchs & other species are beautiful and life is better when we’re surrounded by beauty
Hope for the Future
You can see in the population chart above that numbers can rise and fall from year to year and between those bars is where the hope for the future lies: A female Monarch can lay 300+ eggs.
So if we do our part by restoring the habitat, planting Monarch waystations and managing our land differently, Monarchs will do theirs to keep the magic alive.