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More Monarch Butterflies in Mexico, But Numbers Still Low

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This week’s blog post is written by Hannah, a monthly correspondent and Drummer’s alumna. Perhaps her experience, research, and writing will convince you that something needs to change to increase the numbers of these beautiful creatures. 

Monarch butterflies that migrate from the United States to Mexico have increased in count for the second consecutive year as reported in the 2015-2016 census taken by World Wildlife Foundation.  The butterflies covered almost 4 hectares of forest in Michoacán, which is double the amount of last year’s hectares.  The forest coverage increased also, which is positive.

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Scientists believe the increase was caused by good breeding weather consisting of mild temperatures in the Midwest and regular rain to nourish milkweed which the butterflies need to lay their eggs.  Deforestation is decreasing in Mexico as logging of the overwintering site is now illegal.  The use of herbicide-resistant crops in the Midwest has radically decreased the milkweed availability.  Actions are now being taken so areas are being conserved for milkweed ‘gardening’.  The Monarchs must have food for their caterpillars.

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One huge action to take is to continue to plant milkweed and educate others of the Monarch’s threats.  The butterflies need us to help them survive.

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I’ve been working with the Monarch butterfly for 9 years now. I saw the dramatic decrease in the population happen as my tagging numbers declined radically when I was younger. In one day, I could catch a hundred butterflies. Now I’m lucky to catch five. It is sad to see this beautiful species fade away when I know it can be prevented. I will have 3 registered way stations by this summer that provide host and nectar plants for Monarchs. I will continue to educate others about the importance of planting milkweed and decreasing pesticide use. I will remain hopeful that conservation efforts being made will allow this species to repopulate so it can be removed from the endangered list. I know I am making a difference. Please join my efforts.

 

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