Western Monarch Butterflies Rebound from Edge of Extinction
Wednesday, November 24, 2021
GOLETA, Calif. - The western monarch butterfly appears to be pulling back from the edge of extinction - with more than 100,000 counted so far in the 25th annual Western Monarch Thanksgiving Count.
This week, more than 100 butterfly enthusiasts are creeping around groves early each morning, counting the iconic orange-and-black western monarch, and they're finding large clusters from Los Angeles to Santa Cruz.
Emma Pelton, a Xerces Society conservation biologist, said it's unclear if the rebound is because of natural variability or something else.
"They move and migrate over such large areas that it's hard to know exactly what weather conditions or environmental factors affected things in any one spot," she said, "but we think this is a good example of resiliency."
People who spot a large cluster of monarchs are encouraged to report it on the app iNaturalist, so scientists can go check it out. Gardeners also can help the species by reducing pesticide use and by planting the butterflies' favorite flowering bushes, such as native narrow-leaf milkweed and other flowers that bloom year-round.
While it's good news that the numbers are up, Pelton cautioned that they still are dangerously low - representing more than a 90% drop from the number of monarchs that overwintered in California in the 1980s.
"We would really like to see 500,000 butterflies," she said. "We'd like to see a million butterflies, which is more of the historic size that we saw in the '90s, not that long ago."
The Biden administration's new infrastructure bill, passed last week, dedicates $10 million over five years for projects to benefit monarchs by planting native flowers, adopting pollinator-friendly land-management practices, and removing non-native vegetation.
get more stories like this via email
In her 2022 State of the State address, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul set new goals for electrifying the school bus fleets in the state. Clean-energy …
Finding and affording child care is no cakewalk for Oregon families right now. A new report details the pressures and some potential policy fixes…
Acknowledging the pandemic's toll on Kentucky students, teachers and families, Gov. Andy Beshear announced last night a state budget which would make …
Health and Wellness
This month, Minnesota has raised state reimbursement rates for dentists who accept patients enrolled in the state's Medicaid program. Groups working …
Mobile carriers are starting to decommission their 3G cellular networks this year, some as soon as next month. Pennsylvania officials are reminding …
Health and Wellness
A new report suggests discrimination in medical settings affects the quality of care for many Ohioans. In a survey of more than 800 people, …
One hundred years ago today, the Izaak Walton League of America was founded in Chicago, with a mission of local stewardship of wild places, citizen …
An alliance of environmental groups and lawmakers has released an ambitious, wide-ranging set of goals for the 2022 Arizona Legislature. The …