The presence of the “monarch butterfly” in Mexican hibernation forests increased 144% in the 2018-2019 period compared to the previous year, environmental authorities reported. With this growth, the “High Level Group” created to conserve the migration of the species achieved its goal established for 2020: six full hectares occupied by the butterfly in Michoacán and the State of Mexico.
The National Commission of Natural Protected Areas (CONANP) and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) reported this past Wednesday 30th of January 2019, that butterflies established 14 colonies in the current period of hibernation – which began last December – in two new entities. In the ejido Ojo de Agua and the Nevado de Toluca.
This increase in the monarch butterfly population in Mexican forests is the highest recorded since the 2006-2007 period, when it reached up to 6.8 occupied hectares; however, this figure is still much lower than that of the 1996-97 period, when butterflies occupied 18 hectares of forest in Mexico.
However, the finding of the new colony in the State of Mexico gives hope to the Trilateral Scientific Committee – made up of Mexico, the United States and Canada – that more colonies can be found, which would mean that the lepidopteran is finding a better environment to hibernate and their migration can recover.
In a joint conference, the Commission, the Fund and experts from the three countries explained that the monarch itself is not in danger of extinction but its immigration process by North America, which has been affected by three main problems:
- Illegal logging of forests
- The use of herbicides that pollute hibernation zones
- Climate change, which has caused frosts and unusual hailstorms in the area.
The occupation has fluctuated and registered its lowest point in the 2013-14 period, when it reached 0.67 hectares of inhabited forest. It was then that the trilateral group was created to recover the migration, setting a goal of six hectares by the year 2020.
The general director of the WWF in Mexico, Jorge Rickards explained that the growth of the population of monarchs is due to the fact that during the spring of 2018 the butterflies that returned to Texas found a favorable environment and the first generation of American specimens was born. , which in turn repopulated all breeding sites in North America.
He warned that it is still not possible to talk about a battle won, since the trend of occupation, although fluctuating, has remained downward. He indicated that more work is required with communities such as the one developed last year, citing as examples the response of the US public to a call to plant milkweeds (the plant from which the larvae feed); or the establishment in Mexico of gardens with flowers to feed nectar to the butterflies that allows them to undertake their trip.
Andrew Rhodes said that the CONANP will undertake protection plans in the new colony found in the Nevado de Toluca, “all the colonies that are identified within protected natural areas lead us to define important sites of protection; which means greater surveillance, work of local communities, acquire a higher priority level, “the official concluded.
The Yucatan Times