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The population of Monarch butterflies decreases to its second lowest level in the wintering grounds of Mexico.
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The population of Monarch butterflies decreases to its second lowest level in the wintering grounds of Mexico.

Experts reported a 59% decline in the population of endangered monarch butterflies at their wintering grounds in Mexico this year, which is the second lowest level recorded since data collection began. The decrease is attributed to the use of pesticides and changes in climate.

Each year, the butterfly count measures the area covered by clusters of monarch butterflies on tree branches in the mountainous pine and fir forests near Mexico City. These butterflies originate from regions east of the Rocky Mountains in the United States and Canada, where they spend the winter.

The incredible migration of butterflies from Canada and the US to Mexico, and then back again, is widely regarded as a natural wonder. None of the butterflies survive the entire journey.

On Wednesday, the Commission for National Protected Areas of Mexico reported that the butterflies occupied an area of 0.9 hectares (2.2 acres), a decrease from 2.21 hectares (5.4 acres) in the previous year.

In 2013, the smallest area was 0.67 hectares.

The conservation director of the commission, Gloria Tavera, mentioned that climate change plays a significant role in this issue. She specifically pointed to extreme weather events, drought, and rising temperatures.

Specialists observed a significant lack of butterflies at various customary locations for wintering.

Tavera stated that the monarchs searched for alternative locations.

A tree full of monarch butterflies at the Rosario Sanctuary, Michoacan, Mexico in 2020.

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The population of western monarch butterflies that spend the winter in California has also decreased.

butterflies were present.

In the year 2022, there was a documented rise, as specialists noted a 35% increase in the population of monarch butterflies.

Compared to the previous winter season of 2021, there has been an increase in the number of butterflies that have arrived to spend the winter in mountaintop forests.

Gregory Mitchell, a scientist at Environment and Climate Change Canada, described the decrease as “extremely concerning,” but acknowledged that “we possess the determination, resources, and personnel” to tackle the effects of human activity on the monarch butterfly migration.

The leader of Mexico’s protected areas, Humberto Peña, suggested the establishment of a “protected pathway” for migrating butterflies by decreasing the use of herbicides and pesticides and implementing stricter regulations for deforestation.

The application of herbicides in the United States and Canada has decreased the availability of milkweed, which is the preferred source of food for butterflies.

Fortunately, there was some positive information. The amount of deforestation in the Mexican forests where monarch butterflies overwinter decreased to approximately 4.1 hectares this year. The majority of this loss was due to unauthorized logging activities.

There was a significant decrease compared to last year, with a loss of 58.7 hectares of forest cover.

The forests where the butterflies congregate to stay warm have been greatly endangered by unauthorized tree cutting. Additionally, tree diseases, lack of rainfall, and severe weather events have also contributed to the decline of trees.

Source: theguardian.com