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Archive for March 24, 2023

2022-23 Monarch Butterfly Winter Numbers Decreased

Every year the Monarch population is estimated by counting the number of hectares (one hectare = 2.5 acres) that contain Oyamel Fir trees inhabited by Monarchs at their central Mexican overwintering grounds.  The 2022-23 count which was just released showed a 22 percent decrease from the previous year.  

The Monarch population has been declining since counts began roughly 30 years ago.  Scientists feel the most important influences are climate change, herbicides and habitat.  The weather in the southern United States in the spring, when monarchs are migrating north from wintering in Mexico, is crucial as is summer weather.  The creation of genetically modified herbicide-tolerant crops has had a devastating effect on milkweed growth in corn and soybean fields, where it used to flourish. As the Monarchs’ sole source of egg-laying vegetation and larval food, milkweed species are essential to their well-being.

Creating more milkweed habitat appears to be the single most effective way of coming to the Monarchs’ aid.  Be it your back yard, school yard, or road sides, disperse those milkweed seeds far and wide! The butterflies that left New England last fall are starting their journey north right now. They will lay eggs and die along the journey, but their offspring will benefit from the efforts we make now. (Photo: Monarchs overwintering on Oyamel Fir trees in the Transvolcanic Mts. of central Mexico; photo and information resource: )

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