The Vanishing Monarch Butterflies
How alluring a sight it is to see the beautiful Monarch butterflies, “the king of butterflies” roaming around your garden and the nearby vicinity. For the people of America, the monarch butterflies are always a part of their memorable childhood, from which they learned about pupae, larvae, metamorphosis and a score of other things related to its life cycle.
But, recent studies reveal some disheartening data regarding the Monarch species. Endangered species like lions, elephants and porpoises grabbed everybody’s attention, but the decreasing population of Monarch was only very recently noticed. The U.S Fish and Wildlife Service disclosed recently that from the year 1990, around a billion Monarch butterflies have vanished.
Reasons Behind Their Disappearance
This crucial data was revealed after a petition was filed by some environmental group and a researcher on Monarch species. They alleged that the use of weed-resistant material and herbicides, is continuing to ruin and their original habitat, and may well be the main reason leading to the consistent extinction of the Monarchs. The use of such harmful chemicals led to the destruction of milkweed plants, the only plant on which the Monarch caterpillars feed on. This review is a proof of the massacre encountered by this lovely little creature. The extinction of Monarch butterflies derived from the decreasing numbers reaching Mexico by way of migration, in the last two decades. Now, it has gone below the lowest recorded level of a mere 35 million. Instead of spreading in the whole 45 acres like in 1996, it covered only an area of 1.7 acres that included 11 sanctuaries during this winter. The World Wildlife Fund announced this fact, and concluded that the expansion of agricultural areas has led to this disaster. In 1980, around 26 acres in the Midwest was covered with the hardy plant, milkweed, but now the grasslands of the Upper Midwest has been drastically converted into Soya Bean and Corn fields, which are cultivated using a large amount of herbicides and weed-resistant chemicals to protect their cultivation. The female Monarch butterflies flutter across this area in search of a host plant to lay her eggs, little knowing that her habitat has been wiped off from this landscape, in an alarming way. By 1999, around 97% of milkweed was eradicated. Other than these areas, milkweed was also commonly found along the roadsides, edges of farms and fields, but with the regular use of herbicides, it was rooted out from all the other places as well.
For the last two years, another factor adds to their disappearance. Studies reveal that the swinging climate probably due to global warming, in the last two years could also be a main reason for their decreasing population. In the United States, in 2012, Spring experienced a temperature far above normal. This led the Monarchs to migrate earlier to the colder climate, before the milkweed plant emerged. Later, the following year experienced a severe cold climate, causing a hindrance to their migration towards the north.
The other factor could be the after effects of uncertain climates, like the spreading of diseases, parasites and other bacterial infections.
Still another angle is that the population of the males is decreasing drastically, resulting in the reproduction occurring merely during the long migration period.
Researchers also believe that illegal logging might have also contributed to this shocking disaster.