Western Monarch Butterfly Winter Count Down 99.9%
Tuesday, February 2, 2021
PISMO BEACH, Calif. -- The Western Monarch butterfly population that overwinters in California has dropped to devastating levels, with only 1,914 individuals spotted in this year's winter count.
They've been declining for decades, but experts say they may have reached an extinction threshold in 2018 when volunteers only counted 30,000.
Angela Laws, endangered-species conservation biologist for the Xerces Society, said the population appears to be collapsing.
"It's a 99.9% drop from the '80s, when there were an estimated four million monarchs overwintering along the California coast," Laws outlined. "It's a big drop in their population. It's very worrying."
She noted reasons for the stark decline include loss of native milkweed habitat, pesticide use, development at their overwintering sites and climate change.
The Western population tends to return each winter along the California coast, from San Diego to Mendocino counties, with a particular concentration near Pismo Beach.
Deedee Soto, farm-bill pollinator conservation planner for the Xerces Society, works with the Natural Resources Conservation Service to help farmers and ranchers plant pollinator habitat on their land, mostly native milkweed and nectar plants.
"The rangelands are particularly important for monarchs because the habitat is more so protected from these heavily developed areas and areas where there's a lot of pesticide use and some habitat degradation," Soto explained.
People can help the effort to save the monarchs by reducing pesticide use in their yards and planting monarch-friendly plants.
For tips, check out savewesternmonarchs.org.
In addition, the Endangered Species Coalition is asking supporters to write letters to Congress urging lawmakers to pass the Monarch Act, a bill which would provide funding for projects to save the species.
get more stories like this via email
A bill in Congress with a Connecticut House sponsor aims to reduce child labor in the United States. Called the "Children Harmed in Life-Threatening …
As the opioid crisis continues, more New Hampshire grandparents are seeking financial help to raise their grandchildren. Already struggling with the …
As of Jan. 1, insulin will become a lot more affordable for many Nebraskans, and those who have come to rely on telehealth visits are more likely to …
Some state and local lawmakers are on a long list calling on New York Gov. Kathy Hochul to require big oil companies to help offset the costs of …
Utilities and government agencies in the U.S. are carrying out plans to transition to cleaner electricity sources. To avoid being left behind…
Health and Wellness
November has been Diabetes Awareness Month - but heading into the holidays, people who are diabetic know they can't lose their focus on keeping it in …
As world leaders gather in Dubai for the international conference on climate change, the City of Long Beach is acting on multiple fronts to help the …
A new report is calling for greater accountability in the system providing funding to farmers in underserved communities. The research takes a dive …