The Bad News on Monarch Butterflies Just Got Worse
Posted by Richard Conniff on January 29, 2014
In 2013, the population of monarch butterflies at overwintering sites in Mexico was down by half from 2012. Today the 2014 count, from this past December, is being released, and the numbers are down by half again. Check out the chart for the steady erosion of one of North America’s iconic species. Visit the Monarchwatch blog for the full story, including the loss of an estimated 167 million acres of monarch habitat lost since 1996.
And here’s a press release from the Natural Resources Defense Council:
WASHINGTON (January 29, 2014) –Conservation experts in Mexico today announced that a record low number of monarch butterflies returned this year to their wintering grounds in the mountains of Mexico and their annual migration is at “serious risk of disappearing.” Monarchs, which migrate from Mexico across North America and back every year, have been in serious decline since the 1990s. Experts believe that the widespread use of glyphosate weed killer, sold as Round-Up, in connection with genetically engineered glyphosate-resistant corn and soybeans, may be destroying once-widespread milkweed, which monarchs rely on exclusively for reproduction. Peter Lehner, executive director of the Natural Resources Defense Council, made this statement:
“This news raises a disturbing question that can no longer be ignored: Are our actions causing the rapidly dwindling population of monarchs? We must urgently review the widespread use of glyphosate, which may be wiping out milkweed plants, essential for the Monarchs’ survival. It would be heartbreaking if we inadvertently destroyed in just a few years the millennia-old miracle of the Monarchs’ unique migration.”