Based on the latest survey, the migration of the monarch butterflies through the Point wasn’t quite a success. Biologists established that between September 14 and October 31, the monarchs number plummeted by over 50 percent compared to 2015, and it looks like the primary factor influencing this decline is the weather.
According to Mark Garland, Director of the Monarch Monitoring Project, the powerful easterly winds during September most likely pushed the monarch butterflies west, meaning that they weren’t able to remain on the coast.
A group of scientists is conducting an extensive research to find out if climate change can be associated with the population decline of the monarch butterflies. Garland further adds that monarchs are more common during the late part of the season, as researchers from Mexico state that many monarch butterflies have completed their migration to the winter ground.
However, the tagging process continues, as scientists are also trying to determine whether climate change is a primary factor in delaying the monarch’s migration. Based on the latest statistics, the last three hourly counts of monarch butterflies have been the lowest ever observed in the Point.
Volunteer on the census route stated that the average hourly count consisted of 15 monarch butterflies compared to last year’s median count of 38. The highest average count was observed in 1999 with 360 monarchs, while the lowest count was recorded in 2004 with nine monarchs.
Back then, the severe winter decimated the butterfly’s population. These insects are very fragile and vulnerable to sudden temperature changes. In other words, freezing temperatures might make their migration impossible.
Monarch butterflies are important pollinators and one of the North American symbols. However, their population has been on a constant decline over the past few decades due to a wide range of causes including the loss of habitat, air pollution, pesticides, and climate change.
Biologists underline that without pollinators, the world will starve in a few years because they provide more than eighty percent of the food produced by crops. Unfortunately, the use of pesticides has had a tremendous impact on many species of pollinators, including bees, bats, and other species of butterflies.
During this project, biologists aim to tag as many monarch butterflies as possible in order to monitor their migration and develop efficient strategies to preserve and protect this endangered species.
Image Source: Wikipedia