Monarch Numbers Drop 59% in Mexico
Top entomologist calls it 'ominous'
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 14, 2013 4:33 PM CDT
A Monarch butterfly sits on a tree trunk at the Sierra Chincua Sanctuary in the mountains of Mexico's Michoacan state.   (Marco Ugarte)

(Newser) – The number of Monarch butterflies making it to their winter refuge in Mexico dropped 59% this year, falling to the lowest level since comparable record-keeping began 20 years ago. It was the third straight year of declines for the butterflies that migrate from the US and Canada to spend the winter sheltering in mountaintop fir forests in central Mexico. Six of the last seven years have shown drops, and there are now only one-fifteenth as many butterflies as there were in 1997.

"Ominous," says a leading entomologist at Sweet Briar College in Virginia. "This is not just the lowest population recorded in the 20 years for which we have records. It is the continuation of a statistically significant decrease in the Monarch population that began at least a decade ago." The World Wildlife Fund, one of the groups that sponsored the butterfly census, blamed the drop in part on agricultural practices, especially the use of herbicides that kill off the Monarchs' main food source, milkweed. The entomologist says other factors, such as small-scale logging and the diversion of water resources, are probably at play in all three countries.

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Showing 3 of 37 comments
Lefty_Libby
Mar 15, 2013 3:13 PM CDT
Like a canary in a coal mine....have to say this bodes very badly for us all.
BenDunn
Mar 15, 2013 10:46 AM CDT
You know Mexico is a crap hole, when even the butterflies will not go there!!
right2dave
Mar 15, 2013 12:31 AM CDT
Very 'ominous'?