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Eastern Monarch Butterflies May Be At Risk Of Extinction Within 20 Years

Though the population was up this winter, the winged insects aren’t out of the woods yet.

03/26/2016 04:31 pm ET | Updated 5 hours ago

North America’s eastern monarch butterflies may still be at risk of extinction, despite recent increases in their population.

The population of eastern monarchs has declined 84 percent from the winter of 1996-1997 to the winter of 2014-2015, according to a Scripps Institution of Oceanography study. (Western monarch butterflies, which live west of the Rocky Mountains and migrate to California, were not included in the study. However, other studies indicate they are experiencing population declines of their own.)

This long-term decline means there is a “substantial chance” that monarchs become “quasi-extinct” within the next 20 years, researchers wrote in the study, published Monday in in the journal Scientific Reports. This means that a species is not yet extinct, but has so few individuals that it’s impossible for the population to recover.

Because it’s somewhat impractical to count individual monarchs, scientists count the population by measuring the geographic area that the insects take up while spending the winter in Mexico.

Monarch butterflies on a forest floor in Mexico.

The recorded eastern monarch population hit an all-time low in the winter of 2013-2014, covering only 1.7 acres of land while wintering in Mexico. Conservation efforts have led to massive population booms — this winter the butterflies covered 10 acres — but the improvements aren’t enough to offset long term declines. In the winter of 1996, monarchs covered nearly 45 acres.

Scientists attribute their dramatic population decline since then to multiple factors, including loss of breeding habitat, change and deforestation, according to the World Wildlife Fund.

For monarchs, loss of breeding habitat — which the researchers believe is the primary factor in their decline — means a loss of milkweed. The butterflies lay eggs on milkweed, and it’s the sole food source for monarch caterpillars.

Ecologist John Pleasants told Vox that he estimates the United States has lost more than 1 billion milkweed plants since the 1990s, and continues to lose around 2 million a year due to factors like the widespread use of herbicides and farmers converting grassland to cropland. That means that while recent conservation efforts like planting milkweed in gardens and strips of highways have been helpful, they aren’t nearly enough to recover the massive amounts that have disappeared from the U.S.’ agricultural land.

A monarch caterpillar munching on a milkweed plant.

Vox details several possible solutions to the issue, including a proposed Environmental Defense Fund initiative nicknamed the “airnbnb for butterflies.” This program would allow investors to pay farms and other landowners to set aside substantial protected spaces filled with milkweed.

This type of effort seems to be in line with what the Scripps scientists recommend.

“Previously published research suggested that the most effective way to increase monarch numbers is to focus on the restoration of their breeding habitat,” said co-author Darius Semmens in a statement. “Over the previous two winters, eastern monarch populations were very low, indicating a higher risk of losing the species. If their numbers continue to grow, as they did this year, the risk will decrease.”

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Eventually, something's going to arrive in the world and make PEOPLE extinct. They have life and don't give two damns about it, have no respect for it; when it gets right down to it, what good are human beings really????????? They're really just a heap of hateful mofos and beyond annoying. Everyone's playing a role; no one can be their ugly selves. Gotta keep on frontin'; for what/for who/for God?  He's sick of you; just check out the next storm/fire/tsunami/earth quake that comes your way.

Last edited by Norland
Kocolicious posted:

Sista Norland wrote:  Eventually, something's going to arrive in the world and make PEOPLE extinct.


  That something did arrive:  Massa and his boys.  And they've been trying to make black people extinct every since they discovered us. Ha!  They discovered us and we've been here longer than them.  What a hoot.   But!

I hate to sound racist, but its the truth.  

There really has been nothing but death and destruction of civilizations and the environment since Europeans rose to power in this world.  

You can start with the Native American buffalo and go from there  around the globe. and all you see is the destruction of Rain Forests, natural vegetation, rivers, lakes, streams, and animals hunted, poisoned or driven to extinction along with not only the bees, but even the butterflies as well.

That, along with denaturing the human food supply with hybridization, man-made chemical poisons and toxins, and GMOs, which poisons and denatures the entire food chain for both humans and animals. 

This is not even counting all of the civilizations that have been destroyed, displaced, and driven into extinction, starting with the Stolen Legacy, colonization and enslavement of Africans.  

Nor is it counting all of the accumulated toxic nuclear waste that has/is being placed in secret, and unknown, and undocumented locations, or all of the non-degradable garbage and waste over-flowing in landfills and being shipped to "third-world" countries to poison those environments as well.  

If you didn't know better, you would think that they were on a mission to destroy the entire planet, starting with the entire environment and the human population along with it.

European aggression, imperialism and greed driven destruction is what is going to destroy humanity

Last edited by sunnubian

It is the truth! There's something wrong with the so-called "white" race to harbor so damn much hatred. They've driven others of the world to be consumed by as much hatred as they have if not more, in order to defend themselves. The human race is turning into BEASTS. If folks start with that Nuclear shit, it's all over for everything but the roaches. The lipless Klan will be lifeless for sure.

Last edited by Norland

Sista Sunnubian wrote:  If you didn't know better, you would think that they were on a mission to destroy the entire planet, starting with the entire environment and the human population along with it.

  I really do believe that the race is the neanderthal.  Cuz it is still as barbaric as ever over on the other side of the world.  And Germany where the neanderthal was notorious for having racist Germans.  So why is anyone surprised that the neanderthal [as hard as he tries] cannot live in the world with the rest of us...who have been here way longer than him?   I think the white struggle is to be perfect and it's not happening cuz it is NOT why they do not have a CULTURE today...what they do have?  Is bits and pieces of other folks' cultures stolen.  So.  We can't wake our people up.  They are the sleeping giants.  We definitely can't wake our men up...cuz it seems from Africa to America black men are succumbing to massa's ways.  Even though they say they are not.  And that's...what really destroying us.  But!

Last edited by Kocolicious

There won't be anything to wake up when everything's gone. All this fighting and hating is so out of control it isn't even funny. What's with these Dog Cousins that they think they're the best thing walking and talking? Where'd they get that idea? All they do is hate and kill. That's not even human and maybe that's the problem, they're IMPOSTERS from Pluto.

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