Monarch Butterfly Makes Comeback in North America
The monarch butterfly population in North America seems to be recovering. Every year these insects travel thousands of kilometres between Canada and Mexico. In the past 20 years the population of monarch butterflies has been decreasing, but now they are making a comeback.
In the middle of the 1990s there were over a billion butterflies that migrated to Mexico to spend the winter. In 2013 that number dropped to slightly over 30 million. A population count has shown that this is the second year in which the number of butterflies has actually increased again.
The butterflies are concentrated in the mountainous forests of central Mexico, where they live in a relatively small area. It takes them about two months to migrate from Canada to Mexico.
In the past years, much of their habitat along this route has been destroyed by pesticides and the loss of land. They lay their eggs on milkweed plants which have declined in recent years. Now, US farmers are helping the butterflies by planting milkweed and reducing pesticides. In addition, environmentalists are planting other plants that butterflies need for food. The mild weather of the past years has also helped the butterflies recover.
Mexico, Canada and the United States are now making efforts to help preserve the monarch butterfly population and restore the habitat on their journey. On the Mexican side , authorities are fighting illegal deforestation, which robs the butterflies of their living areas.
Currently, there are about 20000 different types of butterflies in the world today. Together with bees, they transfer pollen between plants.
The monarch butterfly - Image: Kenneth Dwain Harrelson
- actually = in fact
- authorities = organisation that makes decisions about certain things
- billion = a thousand million
- concentrate = here: they can be found in great numbers
- currently = at the moment, now
- decline = go down
- decrease = go down
- deforestation = the cutting down of trees
- destroy = damage completely
- environmentalist = a person who loves nature and cares about the world around us
- habitat = area where plants or animals usually live
- illegal = against the law
- in addition = also
- increase = go up
- loss = to lose something
- make an effort = try
- migrate = when animals or insects go to a different place to live there during the summer or winter
- milkweed = a common plant that produces a white substance when the stem is broken
- mountainous = area with a lot of mountains
- pesticide = chemical substance used to kill insects, animals or plants that are harmful
- pollen = fine powder that is taken from plant to plant by the wind and insects; it is used to produce seeds
- population = here: a group of insects that live together
- preserve = to help survive
- recover = here: the number is going up again
- reduce = here: to use less
- restore = to bring something back to its earlier state
- slightly = a bit