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Natural Highlights: Wintering Monarchs

 

You won't see any Monarch Butterflies in the Midsouth area this time of year.  Right now, the eastern Monarch population is concentrated on a few hectares of mountain forest in central Mexico.  The latest update shows a slight increase in the area occupied by wintering butterflies from last year, from .67 to 1.13 hectares. By comparison, as recently as 2002, butterflies covered 9.35 hectares.  

This winter's slightly better numbers are still extremely low and the butterflies are thus quite vulnerable to winter storms and poor breeding conditions.  Let's hope there's no extreme weather in Michoacan, Mexico for the next two or three weeks.  After that, the Monarchs will begin making their way back up north where they will seek the habitat they depend on, which includes both nectar plants and the milkweeds on which they lay their eggs.  The growing scarcity of milkweeds is thought to be one of the causes of the Monarch's decline.

Just recently, the Monarch Butterfly was proposed for listing as an endangered species in the United States. There were about a billion Monarch Butterflies in the mid-90's.  Last year there were just 35 million.

Read the winter update from Monarch Watch.

Read about the possible listing of the Monarch Butterfly as an endangered species.

Create a Monarch Waystation.

Posted by Cathy Justis at 3:49 PM