Monarch Butterflies are Disappearing from the Environment

Conservationists were disappointed on Tuesday when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced it would not recommend putting the monarch on the threatened species list. It’s not that the species isn’t edging to extinction—the monarch meets criteria to be considered threatened, the service admits. But there are “higher priority listing actions.”

Rachael BaleANIMALS Executive Editor, National Geographic. The Big Question is: Why IS The U.S. Letting These Monarch Butterflies Disappear?

Every fall, the iconic orange-and-black monarch butterflies begin their migration to warmer weather. In central Mexico, monarchs by the hundreds and thousands have been arriving from the eastern U.S. and Canada, coating oyamel trees so densely that the bark can’t be seen. In the space of 10 minutes this past October, one volunteer counted 505.

On the California coast, it’s a different story. At a time when western monarchs (which live west of the Rocky Mountains) should be showing up in droves to spend the winter in groves of eucalyptus and Monterey cypress, there is mostly silence. Fewer than 2,000 have been counted this year, down from last year’s count of 30,000. And way down from the four million that wintered there in the 1980s. It’s a drop of 99 percent.

And despite the spectacle in central Mexico, even eastern monarchs, which last year numbered about 60 million, have dropped by 80 percent in recent decades.

I am kind of edgy about this also. Each year, we see a Monarchs coming around and lighting on our flowers along with the Swallowtails which our street is named after. Our granddaughters are thrilled to see them. I suspect environmental change and the use of weed and bug eradication has caused the reduction.

If you are interested there is a place where you can order the right Milkweed seeds to plant around your home which the Monarch butterflies will eat and also plant their eggs. Live Monarch Foundation For a small donation of a $dollar, they will send you 50 seeds. For those who can not afford a dollar, a self-addressed stamped envelope will get you 15 seeds.