There’s a positive message about monarch butterflies for a change! Monarch Watch recently released its latest monarch butterfly population numbers, and the news is really good.
The population of the eastern monarch butterfly going into 2019 is higher than it has been in a decade, according to the National Wildlife Federation. This past winter the total forest area occupied by overwintering monarch colonies in Mexico numbered 14 colonies that covered a total area of 6.05 hectares, a 144 percent increase from the previous season. A hectare is approximately 2.5 acres.
This improvement is no doubt due to the publicity given to the importance of planting beneficial plant species. People are coming to understand that monarch larvae must have milkweed leaves for food in order to grow and become butterflies, and native flowering plants provide necessary nectar for the adults. Plain old-fashioned good luck has probably played a role as well. The newly released population numbers for the eastern monarch butterfly are an encouraging sign that favorable weather and the work of individual gardeners, cities and farmers to plant native milkweed and nectar plants could be paying off.
Let’s keep on looking out for the monarchs in the coming years so the numbers continue to grow just as spectacularly as the eagles and bluebirds have.