After a pretty hard road, the monarch butterfly is on rebound according to the estimates released by U.S Fish and Wildlife Service’s partners in Mexico. Numbers have reflected a 225 % increase in the area occupied by the butterflies in the overwintering habitat since last year.

Over winter, monarch butterflies occupied approximately 10 acres of habitat in Mexico compared to last year’s estimate of 2.8 acres, said Joanna Gilkeson in a press release by the FWS. This insect’s’ population is measured by acres and not by individuals, due to the complexity of the account if it were made one by one.

A monarch touches down in the ecosystem of this purple thistle flower. Source: Discovery News/ISTOCKPHOTO/THINKSTOCK
A monarch touches down in the ecosystem of this purple thistle flower. Source: Discovery News/ISTOCKPHOTO/THINKSTOCK

The significant increased is great news for the species, but more work is needed to restore the eastern population of monarchs, added the statement. Their numbers are not what they used to be 20 years ago when winter population covered as much as 44 acres.

The orange-and-black butterfly, which migrates between 1,200 and 2,800 miles from the United States and Canada each year, have suffered due to a decline in milkweed plants, the one they need to feed and lay their eggs on, as reported by CBS News.

Milkweed has been destroyed by the pesticide used or plowing and land development all over their migration route. Many efforts have been made for years to try to restore the greatness the population once had.

“The widespread use of increasingly deadly pesticides is a death knell for monarch survival. We need to scale back the use of these pervasive pesticides and plant more milkweed to keep these incredible creatures alive and thriving,” Sylvia Fallon, a senior scientist with the Natural Resources Defense Council, said in a statement.

Teaming up

From Mexico to Canada efforts have been made to offer the monarch butterflies a safe migration route. After the release of the estimates, Omar Vidal, Director General for WWF-Mexico, said that now more than ever Mexico, the U.S and Canada should increase their conservation efforts to protect and restore the habitat of this butterfly along its migration route.

Last winter, FWS announced that it was teaming up with to other organizations, the National Wildlife Federation and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, to strategically plant milkweed across the U.S. so the insects can have a safe habitat to reproduce and migrate from, as reported by the Washington Post.

The initiative budgeted $2 million to plant the needed plant on more than 200,000 acres of land especially along the I-35 corridor from Texas to Minnesota, which provides an important spring and summer breeding habitats along the monarch butterfly migration route.

Source: CBS News