The January 30th edition of NEWSDAY, Long Island’s local newspaper had a small article on page A43, on the Health & Science page. It was entitled “Fewest Monarchs in Their Winter Habitat”. Experts say that the regal Monarch Butterfly could become the latest casualty of modern human behaviour.
Each year this amazing creature travels many thousands of miles from areas all over North America to winter in the Pine and Fir forests west of Mexico City. The numbers of individuals making the journey has dropped to it’s lowest levels since record keeping began in 1993. The report detailing the migration says that three factors seem to be at the root of the decrease in Monarch population.
1-The milkweed, which is the Monarch’s principal food source is being crowded out of it’s environment by genetically modified crops in the USA.
2- Urban sprawl in many areas of the USA is also destroying the milkweed’s habitat.
3-Extreme weather trends are making it more difficult for both the plants and the butterflies to survive. Climate change bringing warmer temperatures in summer and drought areas across the western USA, plus frigid winters in the eastern and southern USA are a major problem.
4-Lastly there has been a dramatic reduction in the Monarch’s natural habitat in Mexico. Illegal logging in the forests where the butterflies spend the winter has limited the trees the Monarchs depend on for shelter.
For more information on the problem check out this video by Micheal Risinit on the USA TODAY web site.
On the Yale Environment 360 web site, in an article dated April 1, 2013, author Richard Conniff takes a look at the situation.
“University of Kansas insect ecologist Orley R. “Chip” Taylor has been observing the fragile populations of monarch butterflies for decades, but he says he has never been more concerned about their future. Monarchs are beloved for their spectacular migration across Canada and the United States to overwintering sites in central Mexico — and back again. But a new census taken at the monarchs’ wintering grounds found their population had declined 59 percent over the previous year and was at the lowest level ever measured.”
I was having a conversation about climate change with a friend about thge dire consequences of man’s actions around the world. Starving drowning Polar Bears are certainly a more dramatic harbinger of the environmental disasters that are headed our way but even the smallest of earth’s creatures are finding it a lot more difficult to survive the changes heading our way.
“In an interview with Yale Environment 360 contributor Richard Conniff, Taylor — founder and director of Monarch Watch, a conservation and outreach program — talked about the factors that have led to the sharp drop in the monarch population. Among them, Taylor said, is the increased planting of genetically modified corn in the U.S. Midwest, which has led to greater use of herbicides, which in turn kills the milkweed that is a prime food source for the butterflies. What we’re seeing here in the United States,” he said, “is a very precipitous decline of monarchs that’s coincident with the adoption of Roundup-ready corn and soybeans.”
Genetically modified crops are in the cross hairs of a hot debate in 2014. People are unhappy that they are not being made aware of their inclusion in many common foods by simple labeling. Overseas several violent demonstrations have been staged against using the seeds of GMO’s. Though the results of human consumption of these crops is still in the investigative stages, their use is already having adverse affects on the natural world.
“Now you are really hard pressed to find any corn or soybeans that have milkweed in the fields. I haven’t seen any for years now because of the use of Roundup after they planted these crops. They have effectively eliminated milkweed from almost all of the habitat that monarchs used to use. Now you are really hard pressed to find any corn or soybeans that have milkweed in the fields. I haven’t seen any for years now because of the use of Roundup after they planted these crops. They have effectively eliminated milkweed from almost all of the habitat that monarchs used to use. The developers of these crops not only provided the seeds that were glyphosate-resistant, but they also provided the glyphosate — the Roundup. And, boy, that was a pretty good system. You could make money on both, right?”
And so once again the motive of greater profits is taking another toll on the natural world. In the very near future it is conceivable that the Monarch Butterfly may be a thing of the past. Check out this video posted September 29, 2013 edition of CONSCIOUS LIFE NEWS (http://consciouslifenews.com/monarch-butterfly-population-decreased-80-90-last-year/#)
While above average rainfall in the U.S. this year has increased the number butterflies, the Monarch butterfly population continues to decline. So why are the Monarchs disappearing? The World Wildlife Fund blames climate conditions and agricultural practices, especially the use of pesticides that kill off the Monarchs’ main food source, milkweed.
The actions of human beings continues to change and endanger the natural world. If the Monarch Butterflies cannot survive, the question remains who, and or what, will be next?