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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.
If you’re an infectious disease with the sole aim of infecting as many people as possible, then Donald Trump seems like your perfect president. In one of the more bizarre recent interviews the President has given, he told Axios’ Jonathan Swam that he has the coronavirus situation under control. When Swam pushed back and […]
A team of investigative reporters from the Akron Beacon Journal, Cincinnati Enquirer, and the Columbus Dispatch (all part of the USA Today Network) have been doing some top-notch investigative reporting, helping to expose one of the largest corruption scheme in the history of the state. Their recent stories have shed a light on the elaborate […]
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