Written by Halle Mahoney, ESLLC 2017-2018
Currently there is a concern about the monarch butterfly population in the West, not until recently researches have been able to conclude the current number of monarchs. In the 1980s there was about ten million monarchs on the west, but after current research it has been determined that this population has declined to about three hundred thousand. Scientist believe that if these trends continue in this direction, in about thirty-five years western monarch butterflies will stop migrating entirely. Typically, western populations travel to the California coast from Mendocino County to Baja where they will spend the winters away from the cold. During this time period is when the butterflies take a break from reproducing, but due to the reducing population there might not be enough butterflies to be able to continue this journey. This is not the monarch itself going extinct, but their habits of travel may stop them from leaving California.
There is no exact cause for the western monarch’s decline, but researches have pinpointed a few ideas. Looking at the eastern monarchs, one of the biggest players that has dwindled the population is uses of a spray called Roundup. This is intended to kill weeds and will also kill mil weed, which is essential to the monarch’s existence. Recently farmers in California have been using a similar product and this could possibly effect the western monarch population. Another human caused effect on the population is that where monarchs historically winter is high value real estate investment for housing. Overall, the main cause of this is due to human impact.
Monarch butterflies are loved by all, some plant flowers that attract them, they are observed through their natural cycle in classrooms, and tourist will even go to places just to see them. Personally, for me I have done all three. I have always loved butterflies and would beg my mom right when spring would roll around to buy the kit so I would be able to take care of the butterflies. My father would plant these beautiful yellow flowers that would continue to attract them, and he even took me to a butterfly garden in Pennsylvania. I believe that there should be a more prominent conservation movement to help protect the western monarch butterflies.