The Monarch Butterfly is in serious need of help as its population is dropping at an alarming rate. A recent study conducted by the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department has shown that in just the past two (2) decades, the species has lost roughly 80 percent (80%) of its members.
The main issue is the lack of food sources that are being destroyed by intense use of herbicide on large scales in agriculture in the Midwest.
But Vermont might come to the insect’s help as it hosts plenty of meadows as well as old fields. These make perfect habitats for the Monarch Butterfly as they host milkweed, the insect’s main food source. And if the Vermont officials so wish it, they could become a protective force for the species as well as raise awareness.
Mark Ferguson, a biologist with Vermont’s Fish and Wildlife Department, gave a statement informing that the creatures lay their eggs on milkweed and that once they hatch, the caterpillars begin to feed on the plant.
The biologist’s department mentioned that Eastern monarchs typically move to a specific found in the mountains of central Mexico for the winter. While they’re migrating north, the insects need to reproduce multiple times and have ti have milkweed for their offsprings to feed on at every one of these sites.
Ferguson explained that if a Monarch Butterfly were to leave its wintering grounds while in Mexico, the specimen would never reach Vermont.
He went on to add that “Instead, several generations are born and die along the way, meaning that the grandchildren or great-grandchildren of the monarchs leaving Mexico eventually arrive in Vermont each summer”. Since Monarchs need milkweed so badly in order to reproduce, Ferguson strongly believes that anything those living in Vermont can do for the creatures, will inevitably help the species thrive.
The issue is that much more severe since Monarch Butterflies aren’t the only insects struggling to find food sources. So are bees. John Holdren, a White House science adviser, posted a blog entry last month saying that according to a new federal survey, beekeepers had more than 40 percent (40%) of their colonies die just last year.
The beekeepers later upped the number of pollinators by dividing the surviving hives, however the severity of the problem can’t be ignored.
Steps are already being taken to help the Monarch Butterfly while in their Mexican habitat. After their number dropped by about 90 percent (90%) in just 20 years, the US government started working with Mexico on a project that expands the Monarch’s habitat, in the south of Mexico.
Image Source: monarch-butterfly.com