Some years ago I traveled to Mexico in the winter to witness the AMAZING migration of the Monarch Butterflies. (Read about this HERE) Seeing hundreds of orange and black butterflies coating the trees like wallpaper was one of the most incredible wildlife experiences of my life and one that has made me appreciate this six-legged creature even more than ever.
These days, the Monarch Butterfly is in trouble. Monarch Butterflies migrate every fall all the way to Mexico where they spend the winter with MILLIONS of other Monarchs. The winter of 2013/2014 showed record low numbers of Monarchs in Mexico. Where the average acres covered by these beautiful creatures is usually 17 acres, this past winter the number was just under 2 acres! This is 90% below the average and should be enough to sound off alarm bells in the heads of people all across North America, from Canada, throughout the United States and south into Mexico.
Read more about the reasons for these low numbers HERE.
In summary, the numbers have declined for three reasons:
A plant called Milkweed is the ONLY plant the caterpillars eat and it is not as common as it once was–in individual gardens, along roadways and on large farms. Across the United States Milkweed is being eradicated from corn and soybean fields and new genetically altered crops are being planted. These new plants can withstand the herbicides applied, but native Milkweed cannot. The results have been devastating for the Monarch Butterfly population. Monarchs MUST have Milkweed in order to complete their lifecycle.
2. Challenges where Monarchs spend the winter
Millions of monarchs migrate each winter to Mexico where they congregate on roughly 17 acres. Deforestation, unregulated tourism and problems associated with such concentrated numbers of butterflies are some of the challenges they face.
3.Challenges during migration
Some monarchs travel more than 2000 miles to reach their wintering grounds in Mexico. Bad weather, difficulty finding nectar sources, and collisions with vehicles are just a few of the challenges they have to overcome to have a successful migration.
If you care at all about seeing butterflies and helping these beautiful creatures, CLICK HERE to learn what you can do to help.
- PDF detailing How You Can Help
- Frequently Asked Questions about Monarchs Answered
- Acquiring Native Milkweed
- Citizen Science
- How to Garden WITHOUT harmful pesticides
- Gardening for Monarchs and other butterflies
- Other Monarch Resources