Nature and Environmental Writer: Ebony Bolter Delivers Some Positive News From North America.
Photo by Erin Wilson
There has been an extraordinary environmental surprise. Due to the largest wildflower bloom in a decade, it is reported that a huge surge of monarch butterflies is to be expected in Texas.
Despite there being a decline over a few years, the director of the USDA Scientists program states that “Figures show the highest number of hectares covered since at least 2006,” with monarch butterflies being up by as much as 144%.
These butterflies feed on milkweed, the importance of Texas and their accommodation of the species is crucial as they pass through in spring to lay their eggs on their way annual multi-generational migration to northern Mexico. Around Autumn time, the butterflies use two primary flyways. The first is a path from Wichita Falls to Eagle Pass that spans 300 miles. The second is along the Texas coast.
While this is a positive year for the monarch butterflies, the species are still endangered. Xerces Society, an environmental non-profit claim that the monarchs in Mexico are 66% lower than it was in 1997. As a result, scientists are having to monitor the butterflies to see if the population is recovering.
Factors including climate change and use of pesticides contribute to the dwindling number of the species. Yet, the biggest contributors are a lack of habitat, and where they spend their winters. Thus, more imperfect weather in Spring and Autumn is necessary to truly get a good representation of how the population is developing.
This upward trend is positive for the species. Yet, this year is something of an anomaly and like other insects must be protected as one seasonal improvement is not a reflection of a general incline for the monarch butterflies. Public service announcement: if we look after our ecosystems they will look after us.