The monarch butterfly population is declining, yet there is something we could do to save them from slowly going extinct.
If the reports of the Xerces Society, monitoring monarch butterfly population tell us anything, is that statistics support the thesis. In just 21 years, the population declined by 80 percent.
In the U.S., where the monarch butterflies migrate for wintering, 1 billion of them could be seen swarming in the 1990s. Now, a mere 56 million still embellish their wintering spots.
Surely, monarch butterfly population declines is as dependant on pollution as any other insect population that is rapidly declining today. Yet, one factor that could easily be reversed and save at least a percentage of the population is the loss of milkweed.
Milkweed is crucial for monarch butterfly survival and reversing the loss of this plant could steer the declining population trend back to better days.
In the U.S., Vermont for instance could play a key role in achieving this target. Historically, it was in the Midwest that over half of the monarch population found a home. It is also here that milkweed was abundant.
Aggressive agricultural practices have dwindled the existence of both milkweed and the monarch butterfly. The use of pesticides, insecticides and widespread agricultural crops ended a large part of the wildly grown milkweed.
Milkweed is the holy grail of life for the monarch butterfly population. As they migrate from Mexico to the U.S. and back, the bright black-orange butterflies depend on it for survival. They lay their eggs on the plant, and these hatch, the caterpillars find a nourishment to their like.
An explanation coming from Mark Ferguson of the Fish and Wildlife Department reads:
“A monarch that leaves its wintering grounds in Mexico will never make it to Vermont. Instead, several generations are born and die along the way, meaning that the grandchildren or great-grandchildren of the monarchs leaving Mexico eventually arrive in Vermont each summer.”
This holds true for Vermont as it holds true for all other sites of the monarch butterflies in the U.S. Reversing the decline of milkweed would imply that is seeded in personal gardens, lawns and still wild areas where the butterfly population could reach it.
At the same time, it is time that a more comprehensive policy framework regulates the use of neonicotinoids, the controversial insecticides that are held responsible not only for the decline of monarch butterfly population, but of all pollinators across the U.S.
Provided this issue would be regulated, the meadows, pastures, yards, fields and gardens would be able to support milkweed and other nectar plants that are vital for the monarch butterfly.
The monarch butterfly population, as a pollinator sharing ranks with honeybees, is estimated to bring a revenue of 24 billion dollars to the U.S. economy.
Nothing should keep us from making the best of efforts to reverse the decline of the monarch butterfly population before it is too late.
Photo Credits ucobserver.org