Please Sign In

Please enter a valid username and password
  • Log in with Facebook
» Not a member? Take a moment to register
» Forgot Username or Password

Why Register?
Signing up could earn you gear (click here to learn how)! It also keeps offensive content off our site.

Weather and Milkweed Shortage Lead to Monarch Butterfly Declines

Recent Comments


Recent Posts



Google Reader or Homepage
Add to My Yahoo!
Add to My AOL

Field Notes
in your Inbox

Enter your email address to get our new post everyday.

February 03, 2014

Weather and Milkweed Shortage Lead to Monarch Butterfly Declines

By Phil Bourjaily

CC image from Flickr

The same combination of habitat loss and bad weather that has devastated pheasant populations in the Great Plains states has affected many other species as well, including the Monarch butterfly.

Bad weather and a shortage of milkweed, one of their most important foods, has driven Monarch butterfly populations to record lows, reports The New York Times. This year biologists estimate the migrating population of monarchs numbered about 35 million out of a population once estimated around a billion. The monarch makes one of nature’s more remarkable migrations, an annual flight from the northern plains to Mexico begun by one generation of butterflies and completed by their descendants.

Heat in 2012 and wet weather last spring threw the migration off schedule, stressing the butterflies. And the last few years have seen widespread conversion of CRP grasses to rowcrops as well as clearing and planting of marginal lands driven by record commodity prices. The habitat loss has reduced the amount of flowering plants and milkweed on the monarch’s migratory route, which stresses the butterflies by making them fly farther to find food. Monarchs lay their eggs on milkweed and it’s the only food the larva can eat. 

Post a Comment

Post a Comment