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Monarchs Disappearing in Record Numbers

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Millions of acres of monarch habitat have been lost to agriculture and logging over the past decade, now new monarch populations are struggling to survive. 

 

Perhaps you remember milkweed from your childhood. Just like with dandelions, the seeds from this wild plant blow away in a beautiful cloud of fluff. But as the milkweed plant disappears because of industrial farming practices, so too does the habitat for monarch butterflies.

 

Monarch butterflies, which breed in the United States and Canada, lay their eggs on milkweed. When the caterpillars hatch, they feed on the wild plant before spinning their cocoons.

 

Chip Taylor, an ecologist at the University of Kansas, Lawrence who studies the beautiful monarch says, “We’ve lost about 100 million acres of monarch habitat in corn and soybean fields (since 2000).” Taylor directs Monarch Watch, a citizen science project that monitors U.S. monarch populations. He adds, “To assure a future for monarchs, conservation and restoration of milkweeds needs to become a national priority.”

 

South of the border, the steep decline in monarchs is particularly apparent. The butterflies migrate south for the winter and gather in evergreen forests in Mexico. The population in Mexico this season covers only 6.7 hectares, an area down 44 percent from last year’s record low of 1.19 hectares. Complicating matters for this remarkable insect is the fact that illegal logging in Mexico also encroaches on its winter habitat.

 

 

What You Can Do

 

Plant milkweed and give the monarchs a place to hatch their eggs.   Here's a list of suppliers by state.

 

Sign the Petition to EPA Administrator McCarthy, US Secretary of Agriculture Vilsack, President Obama to stop Approval Round-Up Ready Crops (Round Up is killing milkweed at alarming rates.)

 

Shop at or donate to MonarchWatch.org.

 

Watch and Share this video about the loss of both milkweed and monarch populations, especially in the US midwest: