Where monarchs go?

July 17th 2013 4487 views

The first monarch butterflies usually arrive in Quebec in mid-June. This year, experts and many participants in the citizen science initiatives by tracking monarch populations are seeing a decline estimated at more than 90% of the population of monarchs for all of Eastern Canada. Never seen. Across the continent, scientists and butterfly enthusiasts are worried and the team of the Montreal Insectarium echoed their fears and their questions: monarch migration in eastern North America -it endangered?

Difficult situation for a few seasons

Each year, monarchs spend the winter in Mexico, since the spring came back slowly northward across the United States to finally arrive in Quebec. In 2012, throughout their journey, their reproduction rate has decreased dramatically because they have to deal with extreme temperatures, a record drought, empty flower nectar and milkweed (their host plant) much less abundant . The return to Mexico in the fall, was just as difficult. During the winter of 2012-2013, the researchers found that the monarchs wintering area covered only 1.19 hectare of forest, down 60% compared to the size of last year, which was already clearly smaller than the annual average of 7 hectares. As if that was not enough, the spring of 2013 was marked by cold temperatures and rain records. Reproduction of monarchs then resumed northern path has been greatly diminished.

The exceptionally favorable conditions for butterflies, including the monarch, last year Quebec will not have enough to counter the negative effects observed in populations of the rest of the continent. The current situation of the monarch is a striking example of the impact of climate change on biodiversity. Extreme events associated with climate change and loss of habitats are becoming more frequent. Butterflies are usually "champions" of adaptation. Current observations are all the more worrying. Although it is not impossible to see populations stabilize in the future, team Insectarium in Space for Life remains vigilant and observe closely the evolution of populations over the coming years. It also recalls the importance of developing a wide vision of the continent to better identify factors that threaten the monarchs throughout their migratory range to better protect them. Meanwhile, through gardening and technologies, we can all take concrete action to help monarchs.

How to give a boost to the butterflies?

Here are two simple ways to help maintain the population of monarchs:

1) Build an oasis monarchs in your garden or on your balcony. You will help the monarchs to reproduce and to fill up with energy for their fall migration. //espacepourlavie.ca/oasis-pour-les-monarques

2) Share your comments on iPapillon.ca monarchs. The accumulated data will help researchers to better document the impact of climate change on the number and distribution of butterflies. //www.ipapillon.ca/#&panel1-2

Open your eyes, observers announce the arrival of a few butterflies counted on the way to Quebec!


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