Monarch butterflies are increasing in Mexico

A study has shown the critically endangered monarch butterfly grew its presence in Mexico last year giving a glimmer of hope to researchers who track the fluttering orange and black migrants despite a decades-long population collapse.

In one of planet’s most epic wildlife migrations, the slow-moving monarch butterflies travel south as many as 2,800 miles (4,500 km) from spots in Canada and the United States to warmer Mexico, where millions cover entire trees and is a huge tourist attraction.

Last winter, the pockets of Mexican forest where these insects end up each year saw 35% more butterflies than in 2020, according to the study led by the local office of environmental organisation World Wildlife Fund (WWF), which documented the presence of the species in 7.02 acres last December, which was up from the 5.19 acres in December 2020. Comparably, in the mid-1990s the area in the Mexican forest they covered was 45 acres.

The recovery of the species is also tied to the crucial role it plays in the health of interconnected species. During their migratory journey, Monarch butterflies boost ecosystems as pollinators, assisting a wide range of flowering plants and crops humans tend.

Challenges to the butterflies’ future still persist, including climate change, illegal logging and the growing scarcity of the plant where they lay their eggs. The group recommends more scientific monitoring, sustainable tourism and forest management, as well as “alternative income-generating ventures” like mushroom production and tree nurseries to help restore the forest and boost local incomes.


Author: Sylvia Jacobs

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