- Read the short section “Migration Mystery” in our article “Monarch Migration Mystery.” According to experts, more than half a billion monarchs spend their winter in Central Mexico. How can the monarch butterfly be in “grave danger,” as the Nat Geo News article says, with that kind of population?
- Monarch migration, not the butterflies themselves, are threatened. “The monarch butterfly as a species is not endangered. What is endangered is its migratory phenomenon from Canada to Mexico and back,” explains Omar Vidal, director general of WWF-Mexico, in the Nat Geo News article.
- What are the chief reasons monarch migration is threatened, according to the Nat Geo News article?
- Loss of habitat, including deforestation and destruction of the butterfly’s most important food source, milkweed.
- Severe weather, including storms and droughts.
- Milkweed, the plant on which monarchs rely, is a pest to farmers. As its name implies, milkweed is a weed, diverting important nutrients from crops such as corn and soy when it grows in a field. Farmers are not going to sacrifice their livelihoods to preserve monarch migration routes, so what can be done to help the butterflies? (The Nat Geo News article gives you a few suggestions.)
- Urban planners can plant milkweed in unused areas, such as vacant lots, medians, and roadsides.
- Gardeners can plant milkweed in their home gardens.
- Classrooms can get involved in monarch-related citizen science projects. Check out these opportunities:
- Check in with the good folks at the North American Butterfly Association. They have good ideas, and lots of programs.
Nat Geo; Monarch Migration Mystery
This Current-Event Connection was originally published on January 30, 2014. The recent Google Doodle about monarch migration and news that the Mexican reserve lost 24 acres to logging prompted us to republish.
The good news is that monarch populations are actually up! Read more about it here.