Americans have to be aware of the critical situation of North America’s iconic insects, monarch butterflies, as their population has to be preserved to avoid the occurrence of a critical imbalance in the world’s ecosystem.
Monarchs are one of the world’s top pollinators along bees and other insects and birds. During the last ten years, scientists recorded the lowest numbers of monarch butterflies in the winter period.
There is a wide variety of causes that led to this critical situation, such as freezing temperatures, high winds, hail, and heavy rain. These sudden weather changes have resulted in a mortality rate between 50 to 80 percent over the last ten years.
Also, the spread of bark beetles and illegal logging have severely reduced the overwintering habitat of these iconic insects. According to Lincoln Brower, a researcher who studies the monarchs, forests must be preserved in order to protect this endangered species.
Around 6.000 acres of pollinator habitat is lost every in the United States because of industrial development. In other words, more than 2.2 million acres become inaccessible for butterflies, bees, and other pollinators.
Worse, over 100 million acres of habitat were lost over the last ten years, because of the spread of glyphosate-tolerant soybeans and corn.
But the number is even higher if we account for the loss of habitat starting from 1992 which reaches up to 147 million acres, an area four times larger than Illinois.
If this situation does not stop, the consequences will be even more severe on the monarch butterflies population. Besides climate change and severe weather events, other causes are related to the lack of milkweed in the Midwest (due to the spread of GMO crops), deforestation in the wintering grounds, and the increasing number of Monsanto/Round-up-to ready crops.
All these factors contributed to a 90 percent population drop down during the last twenty years. Monarch Watch and other groups are doing their best to raise awareness and encourage people, agencies, and governments to contribute to a worldwide initiative of preserving and protecting monarchs.
Highway departments are advised to avoid mowing and spraying the milkweed around the highway medians because they are the plant host for butterflies. Americans are encouraged to plant milkweed in their courtyards to support the migration of monarchs.
Plus they should avoid using pesticides too much, especially the ones that will kill pollinators as well. The journey of monarch butterflies will be supported if people become more aware of the fact that this species is highly endangered.