Breaking News – Monarch Butterfly Extinction

Breaking News – Monarch Butterfly Extinction

I may be in the minority, but I had no idea that the Monarch Butterfly population has been in decline and a petition submitted to list this iconic butterfly on the endangered species list. I knew about the honeybee dwindling numbers, but not the Monarch. The Washington Post considered the topic newsworthy enough to publish a report on August 20th.  These beautiful orange and black butterfly numbers have fallen at estimates of 80 to 90 percent, although some population recover occurred in 2016 and forecasts are conflicted for 2017. One source indicated that February numbers down by nearly a third, yet independent local observations this summer suggest an increase.

Reason for the Decline?

Milkweed—Monarch butterflies lay their eggs on milkweed plants and that plant has been unintentionally decimated by increased use of herbicides by farmers. Genetically engineered crops which are resistant to herbicides enable more usages of those chemicals thereby destroying milkweed in fields frequented by Monarchs.

Why Should You Care?

Pollination and Food Chain—Monarch butterflies are major pollinator of plants just like bees, which are important to humans. Without these insects, reproduction of many plant species will decrease dramatically, thereby affecting both animals and humans. Monarchs are also an important source of food to other animals. Nearly two-thirds of all invertebrate animals can be connected to the butterfly on the food chain. Possible loss of Monarchs in conjunction with bees presents an ominous future for parts of our food supply.

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Monarch populations are found in North America, northern South America, Bermuda, Cook Islands, Hawaii, Cuba, other Caribbean Islands, the Solomons, New Caledonia, New Zealand, New Guinea, Australia, the Azores, Canary Islands, Gibraltar, Philippines and North Africa. They sometimes appear in the U.K..

Addition information on the Monarch Butterfly available at Monarch-Butterfly website.

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