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Monarch Numbers Down

7-22-13 monarch IMG_1107According to the Vermont Center for Ecostudies, this spring and summer there’s been an estimated drop of 90% in the overall monarch population in eastern Canada – the most dramatic decline ever recorded. Vermont (and most likely New England in general) is experiencing much the same situation. The low numbers of monarchs are due to several factors that they have encountered along their migratory routes the past couple of years, including extreme temperatures, record drought, low nectar production by flowering plants and a scarcity of their host plant, milkweed. The cold temperatures and record amounts of rain this spring undoubtedly added to their stress.

8 responses

  1. Harmony Anderson

    What about loss of habitat in their wintering locations?

    July 22, 2013 at 2:24 pm

  2. How sad! I had no idea the drop-off was that steep.

    July 22, 2013 at 7:16 pm

  3. Jean Harrison

    I had been meanilng to ask you about this, as I have seen either no monarchs here in Hartland , or only one possible one briefly glimpsed in the distance. I have examined dozens of milkweed plants but seen no eggs or caterplillars. Usually I bring some inside at this time to watch the development close up. I will forward this post to docents at Natural Bridges State Park in Santa Cruz, an overwintering site that has seen numbers and duration of stay go way down in recent years. I’m sad too, about the monarchs and also about Little Brown Bats, another animal I’m involved with.

    July 22, 2013 at 8:24 pm

  4. Kathie Fiveash

    I saw my first monarch on the stand of milkweed in my dooryard on Isle au Haut, Maine, today – weeks later than usual. By this time in the summer my yard is usually graced by hundreds of them. The Journey North website says that not only has this spring’s migration taken place in unusuallly difficult conditions, but that the acreage of monarchs overwintering in Mexico this past winter was down from 15 to 3. Without a major recovery this summer, the monarchs may be facing disaster.

    July 23, 2013 at 3:21 am

  5. I haven’t found one egg or seen a monarch in my Monarch Waystation in western NY. I have been following Monarch Watch and this is sad…

    July 23, 2013 at 3:55 am


    I have certainly noticed a scarcity of them as well! Every milkweed I see and protect and nurture gives me hope – but a 90% drop is devastating!


    Thanks, Judi

    July 26, 2013 at 1:09 pm

  7. Fern

    Heard Dr.Lincoln Brower, a leading monarch researcher/preservationist, speak on monarchs today. He made a compelling case for the precipitous steady decline over the past decade coinciding with widespread increasing use of Monsanto’s genetically modified herbicide-proof corn and soybeans throughout the eastern Midwest and central Midwest farmbelt. It has resulted in marked escalation of full-field herbicide spraying which kills off every last milkweed (and other biodiversity) in and around soybean and corn fields. Thus, large monoculture tracts in the farmbelt, where 50% of the migrating monarchs are known to reproduce, now have little or no milkweed for egg laying/ caterpillar feeding. Illegal logging in Mexico wintering grounds is also a big factor. The GMO/ herbicide increase has 80% correlation with the monarch decline.

    August 16, 2013 at 2:56 am

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