Monarch Butterflies Numbers Are Good, But Improvement Still Needed
Monarch butterflies’ numbers are growing, according to the World Wildlife Fund Mexico. The latest count from the WWF revealed that monarch numbers have increased to 150 million from 42 million in 2015.
Monarch butterflies’ numbers have increased, according to the experts at the World Wildlife Fund Mexico. This week, the international non-governmental organization shared some positive data on monarch butterflies, also known as monarch or Danaus plexippus.
According to the World Wildlife Fund, there are currently nine acres of butterflies, which is up from the one hectare recorded last winter – in raw numbers thre are about 150 million butterflies up from 42 million last year.
It is worth noting that while butterflies are not listed under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), in 2014, the Center for Biological Diversity and the Center for Food Safety filed a legal petition requesting Endangered Species Act protection for the species and its habitat, and it is still under review.
Scott Hoffman Black, executive director of the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, a conservation group leading rescue efforts, was thrilled by the numbers but said more needs to be done. Black stated:
“Today’s numbers show a substantial increase from the last two years (the two lowest years on record) but are still far below a number that most scientists consider sustainable.”
He went on to add:
“This is great news and give us some breathing room as we work to recover monarch numbers.But there is still a long way to go to ensure that my grandchildren will be able to see monarchs every summer.”
Sarina Jepsen, the endangered species program director for the Xerces Society, went on to reveal that although the 150-million figure is very good news, the numbers of monarchs are still well below the 22-year average and the 5-year target of 225 million monarchs (6 hectares) set by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The reason?
Much of the monarch’s habitat is now dominated by corn and soybeans that are genetically modified to allow large-scale herbicide use, which eliminates milkweed that is the monarch’s only host plant. She claimed:
“Additionally, highly toxic, persistent insecticides like neonicotinoids are used everywhere and milkweed is often mown or sprayed because people perceive it as a weed. Logging at overwintering sites in Mexico also threatens monarchs.”
She went on to share some surprising numbers:
“When you consider that in the mid-1990s the population reached nearly 700 million butterflies, this is still a pretty low number. Monarchs are still far from recovered. We will still need a focused effort to address the many threats that monarchs face—from pesticide use and habitat loss to climate change and disease.”
We can all help the monarch butterflies make a full recovery as a species by planting native milkweed and other native flowers and eliminating insecticide use.