Each year, the monarchs butterflies in the North America travel south to Mexico to take refuge during the winter months, but scientists who have marked a significant drop in the monarch’s population say the loss of a wintering habitat in Mexico and breeding habitat in the U.S. may spell trouble the insects.
The loss of a breeding habitat in the U.S. is being caused by severe weather, continued land development, and the expansion of certain genetically modified herbicide-resistant crops, which is causing a loss of milkweed host plants for the butterflies’ eggs and larvae.
Scientists and conservationists fear that the migration phenomenon of the monarch butterfly each fall may soon be halted by as both the wintering habitat in Mexico and the breeding habitat in the U.S. are failing them.
Bill Toone, a monarch conservationist and director of the ECOLIFE Foundation in San Diego told Mongabay that after hearing reports that claim monarchs are struggling in some areas like drought-stricken Texas, he is glad to hear their populations in Michigan and New Jersey show no decline.
“I know from my 23 years of experience going to Mexico, you don’t have to be a scientist to be able to tell that the number of butterflies has just been in a horrific decline in those overwintering areas.”
He added that, “On one hand, it’s great to get a sense that in some parts of North America it looks like monarch butterflies are doing OK. On the other hand, I don’t think it’s reflective of the whole North American phenomenon.”