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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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6 responses

  1. jan gendreau

    have you read Bicycling with Butterflies: My 10,201-Mile Journey Following the Monarch Migration
    Book by Sara Dykman

    March 24, 2023 at 9:09 am

  2. 😦 sad news

    March 24, 2023 at 9:20 am

  3. Alice

    A few hundred milkweeds grow in the yard, but so few Monarchs last year…only raised 22 from collected eggs…hoping for more this year.

    March 24, 2023 at 10:54 am

  4. Alice

    I think supporting farming that uses organic practices is important, too. Only 1% of crops are grown organically….Kashi and Stonyfield and Cascadian Farms have excellent farming practices. Who wants insecticides in their foods? Can’t be healthy.

    March 24, 2023 at 11:50 am

  5. For not only a great American novel but also one with a starring role for monarch butterflies, read Barbara Kingsolver’s Flight Behavior.

    March 24, 2023 at 6:14 pm

  6. leaf04

    As we were just discussing…another problem with crops genetically modified to resist herbicides.

    April 3, 2023 at 10:19 pm

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