Monarchs have always been a symbol for the American continent. However, their population has significantly dropped off over the last few decades due to various factors such as climate change, human ignorance, and pollution.
Worse, the use of pesticides has severely affected these pollinators. However, some people and agencies have come up with new initiatives to protect and preserve this endangered species.
Monarch butterflies are mostly known for their beautiful colors and their long migration from Canada to Mexico and back. This species primarily rely on milkweed, especially to make sure that there will be a next generation.
Female butterflies lay their eggs on the milkweed leaves. Later, the larvae feed on these leaves to reach the stage of the chrysalis, the last step before becoming full grown adults. Monarchs start migrating to Mexico in autumn, to avoid the winter freezing temperatures.
The specimens that survey the three weeks journey will make sure that there will be a next generation to travel back to the United States and Canada in spring. Unfortunately, climate change and severe storms have severely affected their numbers.
During their migration, these butterflies have a short life span. In other words, it needs three generations of butterflies to complete the migration. Nevertheless, the ones that do not need to migrate may live up to three months until the next migration.
Still, another factor that affected their migration consists of South fires and drought that destroyed the eggs and larvae in the milkweed plants. It is interesting that monarchs divide into two categories including migrators and breeders.
The breeders are the ones that have to increase the butterfly population, whereas the migrators have to complete the thousand-mile journey to make their species survive another winter.
Fortunately, the United States Department of Agriculture has taken active measures to preserve and protect this species by encouraging and supporting agricultural producers from ten states to provide habitat and food for these migratory insects.
In additions to this, the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service will contribute this year with a $4 million investment to make sure that butterfly species will have a brighter future.
According to Ivan Dozier, the NRCS Illinois state conservationist, private lands will prove to be vital in maintaining and increasing the population of monarchs. Hopefully, the efforts of the agency will pay off soon.
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