Where Have All The Monarchs Gone?

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Monarch Butterflies, Santa Cruz (1/15/2006) John Poimiroo

Ninety percent of the nation’s monarch butterflies have disappeared during the past 20 years. So many have disappeared that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service anticipates determining in 2019 whether to designate monarchs as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act.

Monarch butterfly on swamp milkweed in Michigan. Photo by Jim Hudgins/USFWS

The colorful insects return to California in late autumn each year, but fewer and fewer of them have been doing so because they depend upon a few species of milkweed for reproduction, and habitats conducive to supporting monarchs have been declining.

In response, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) plans to provide financial assistance to create or improve monarch habitat.

The Michigan Farm Bureau reports that farmers and land owners will be able to apply for compensation at NRCS field offices, this year, for having created conservation cover and field borders or conducted prescribed burns and other brush management steps. The financial aid is designed to offset the cost of establishing or improving pollinator and monarch habitat.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services has indicated it will begin evaluating monarch conservation measures across the migration route with a decision expected in 2019 on whether to designate monarchs a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act.

Individuals can also help by planting butterfly and pollinator gardens and encouraging the creation of monarch habitats in their communities. CLICK HERE to learn how you can help.

Let’s keep this beautiful aspect of fall color returning to California.


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