Monarch Butterfly Populations Rising Again After Years of Decline


The Monarch Butterfly, long feared of leaving the animal kingdom forever may, in fact, be making a comeback. The strikingly beautiful butterfly is proving as tenacious as its proud history suggests. Every winter, the Monarch Butterfly migration spans an incredible 2,000 mile journey from as far north as Canada, to a few specific mountaintops in the fir forests of Central Mexico.  Amazingly, this epic migration there and back spans the life of three to four generations of butterfly, meaning no single individual ever makes the entire journey.  Every individual and the species instinctually knows where to find these isolated mountaintops year after year… and may have known for millennia!

It’s good news that this magnificent creature is making a comeback after many years of decline. Environmental Secretary Rafael Pacchiano reported that in one reserve, 

“We estimate that the butterfly population that arrives at the reserve is as much as three and could reach four times the surface area it occupied last season.”

Of course, Monarch Butterflies are not out of the woods, yet.

Monsanto’s herbicide, Roundup Ready, still kills 99% of the milkweed in the soybean and cornfields in which it’s applied. The Monarch caterpillar lives exclusively on milkweed. The milkweed contains Cardenolides, the compound that make monarchs taste bitter to birds and vertebrates.

Climate change may also affect future generations of the Monarch. Dr. Karen Oberhauser, at the University of Minnesota, recently stated,

Higher temperatures do increase mortality, and that monarchs may have to migrate farther North to maintain the same climate type they live in now. One concern is whether or not the milkweed will be where the new monarch range will be. Without milkweed, the monarchs won’t be able to survive.” Adding, “Monarchs have been able to adapt to a wide variety of climatic and seasonal conditions throughout the world.”

We here at EcoSmart Designs are betting the Monarch Butterfly species will survive, so we're celebrating the Monarch and other butterfly species. We can all help the Monarch Butterfly population by doing our part to keep our food choices as organic as possible and even help plant milkweed. Milkweed seeds are available online from a number of retailers. The milkweed species that monarchs use vary with location, so make sure you find species that are native to your area when you plant them.

Clearly, the Monarch is a survivor. Attention to how we are connected to our environment will help make humans survivors, too!

Thumbnail photo credit: Butterfly in HDR via photopin (license) Main photo credit: Monarch via photopin (license)

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