Facing a drop in population and a shrink of their natural surroundings, Monarch butterflies might make it to the listings of U.S. Endangered Species Act. Originating from North America, once existing in every U.S. state aside from Alaska, the flying insects with unique and vivid wings are famous for their breathtaking annual journey from Mexico to Canada and back.
However, researchers have seen their numbers dive by 90% in the last twenty years. Tierra Curry, a senior researcher with the Center for Biological Diversity still hopes that the species can be safeguarded.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced that it would carry a one-year status reassessment of the butterfly species to establish if it should be granted Endangered Species Act protection. The announcement was made public on Monday.
According to her, it is not, as the government suggests, the farming activities that led to the butterfly population drop, but rather the urban dwellers, backpacking during weekends charged with pesticides and declaring war on nature.
Curry welcomed the federal decision saying that this review might be the start of a change in conditions for the species and that the announcement clearly points out that the issue is of uttermost importance.
The review process starts with an ‘open remarks’ period. Within this period the federal agency will collect new information on Monarch’s wellbeing and figures in the United States. In the end, authorities will decide if the butterflies will be offered protection, ascribed to a waiting list or excluded.
The number Monarch butterflies decreased from a historical peak of about 1 billion in the mid-1990s to 35 million the previous winter. The latest figure is the smallest ever registered, according to statistics. Researchers believe that a great part of the drop was caused by plant protection substances used with genetically modified harvests in the Midwest, where most Monarchs are conceived. Pesticide spreading has cleared out milkweed floras in corn and soybean crops.
Researchers asses that, the once-typical notorious orange and dark butterflies may have lost over 165 million acres of their habitat in the last twenty years. The land size is as big as that of Texas and encompasses almost a third of the species’ mid-year breeding places.
Found all through the United States in the summer months, in winter most Monarchs from east of the Rockies merge in the mountains of Mexico, where they build compact clusters on only couple of acres of woods. Most Monarchs west of the Rockies relocate on California’s coast trees during the winter.
Image Source: Next Glass News