Researchers worried about the fate of Monarch butterflies
Published Wednesday, December 7, 2016 2:35PM EST
Last Updated Wednesday, December 7, 2016 7:28PM EST
Researchers at the Insectarium are worried about the fate of the Monarch butterfly.
Swarms of the orange and black insects migrate each year, spending the winter in Mexico and taking several generations to fly 4,000 kilometres to the northeastern United States and Canada. Descendants will then breed and fly south.
The loss of habitat and crucial food for the caterpillar form, milkweed, have had a drastic effect.
“Any animal, in this case it's a migratory population, that will diminish by over 90 per cent in less than 20 years, has to be shocking. And it's happening more and more often,” said Maxim Larivée, head of research and collections at the Insectarium.
Larivée said the population has dropped from about 1 billion in the mid-90s to about 60 million today.
"Canada, northeastern United States are very vast territories so we need to be strategic, we need to find those hotspots and link them together so that we succeed in our goal to give them the best conditions possible to boost these summer populations," he said.
One significant factor is the wintering grounds in Mexico that are shrinking due to development, as well as herbicides and weather conditions such as harsh cold, extreme wet or prolonged drought.
Last week the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada met to discuss the Monarch butterfly and what could be done to support it.
The International Union for the Conservation of Nature, a global organization that works for nature conservation, say the migration of the Monarch is now a "threatened process."
Saving them from extinction means giving the butterflies safe, abundant places to breed, said Larivée.
“Find those hotspots and link them together so we succeed in our goal to give them the best conditions possible to boost those summer populations,” he said.