And they have switched to crops that are genetically engineered to tolerate herbicides wiping out milkweed that once sprouted between rows of corn and soybean. So the monarchs must travel farther and use more energy to find places to lay their eggs. With their body fat depleted, the butterflies lay fewer eggs, or die before they have a chance to reproduce.
While monarchs are one of the more visible victims of the habitat loss, a wide variety of pollinators and other insects, including many that are beneficial to farmers, are also disappearing along with the predators that feed on them.
(There is also another smaller migration route that takes butterflies from the west to the coast of California, but that has registered even steeper declines.)
So what can we do?
Visit these websites to find out about more about organizations committed to helping the monarchs:
The Monarch Joint Venture (MJV) is a partnership of federal and state agencies, non-governmental organizations, and academic programs that are working together to support and coordinate efforts to protect the monarch migration across the lower 48 United States.
This program is an outgrowth of the Monarch Waystation Program started by Monarch Watch in 2005. There are now over 5,000 certified Monarch Waystations – mostly habitats created in home gardens, schoolyards, parks, and commercial landscaping.
We need a comprehensive plan on how to manage the fragmented edges and marginal areas created by development and agriculture since it is these edges that support monarchs, many of our pollinators, and the many forms of wildlife that are sustained by the seeds, fruits, nuts, berries, and foliage that result from pollination.