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The North American migration of monarch butterflies is truly extraordinary. The 3,000-mile journey from Canada to Mexico draws spectators from around the world to behold its magic. In fact, in Mexican folklore, the butterflies are believed to carry the souls of loved ones.
Like most butterflies, monarchs are highly sensitive to weather and climate: They depend on environmental cues (temperature in particular) to trigger reproduction, migration, and hibernation.
Their dependence on milkweed alone as a host plant is a further vulnerability, particularly as milkweed abundance is declining throughout the monarch range.
They also face a decline in their over winter habitat, and the effects of an increasing frequency of extreme weather events such as drought and severe storms, and extremes in hot and cold temperatures.
By the Numbers: According to the Washington Post, between 1990 and 2015, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says, a billion butterflies vanished.
Because over 95 percent of the population migrates en masse to a few patches of Mexican forest, each smaller than half a football field, a single storm or heat stroke could effectively kill off the population. (A smaller percentage of the butterflies winter in Southern California or Florida, where they face their own challenges.)
That nearly happened in 2002, when a winter storm killed about 75 percent of monarchs. And again in 2012, when a heatwave in the Midwest killed tens of thousands.
Bottom Line: As temperatures keep rising and heatwaves keep occurring, scientists don’t know how much longer the monarch migration will be sustained.
While Senator Joe Manchin leads the opposition to climate provisions in President Biden’s budget bill, his own state is the most exposed to floods in the nation, according to new data released this month by the nonprofit organization First Street Foundation. Over 60% of West Virginia’s power stations are at risk, twice the average and […]
By Amy Lupica, ODP Daily Editor Documents obtained by Greenpeace UK’s investigative journalism team Unearthed reveal that many coal and oil-rich nations have urged the UN’s International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to water down its upcoming report on the world’s options to fight climate change successfully. Thousands of comments were sent to the IPCC’s […]
By Amy Lupica, ODP Daily Editor Vital climate measures in the Clean Electricity Performance Program (CEPP) may be on the chopping block as the debate over President Biden’s extensive budget package continues in Congress. Senator Joe Manchin III (D-WV) is leading the charge to cut the CEPP, telling the White House he strongly opposes the […]
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