October 31, 2020

Migration of monarch butterfly at risk of deforestation, says expert

Migration of monarch butterfly at risk of deforestation, says expert



The migration process of the monarch butterfly is at risk due to human activities, especially deforestation, reported Monday the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM).

Although the extinction of the species is unlikely, the researcher of the Institute of Ecology (IE) of the house of studies, Carlos Cordero, warned about the disappearance of the plants that feed the monarchs and deforestation in the forests that protect them .

He exemplified that the planting of wheat and other plants in large areas of the United States destroys much of the natural vegetation, including the plants that serve as food.

This endangers their migration, which plays an important role in pollination.

The monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) travels from the southeast of Canada and the northeast of the United States to the center of Mexico to spend the winter.

In that journey, more than 90% of the total population of these butterflies is involved.

This process is important because in the journey -of more than 5,000 kilometers- they perform a fundamental pollination function.

According to the UNAM, 75% of food for human consumption depends on pollination.

When arriving to the country, the monarch takes refuge in the central State of Mexico and the western state of Michoacán, where it has its sanctuaries.

There are similar forests in other entities, but it is believed that they reach these sites because there both monarchs and their larvae find one of their main sources of food: the milkweed plant (Asclepias spp).

According to the last monitoring done in 2019 by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), the monarch butterfly increased its presence in Mexican forests by 144% during its hibernation period this year with respect to the previous.

This increase is due to the conservation work carried out jointly by the governments of Mexico, Canada and the United States.

Even so, Cordero concluded that "the three countries have to establish a plan to conserve the forests where they arrive and the plants they feed on their way."

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