TheMonarch butterfly is a milkweed butterfly that belongs to Nymphalidaefamily and Danainae subfamily. The Monarch butterfly is characterizedby the wings, with a black, white and orange pattern. The body isblack, and the head has antennae. The sizes of monarch butterflieshave a wingspan of 3.5-4 inches (Washington Post 1). When comes todiet, like other types of butterflies, changes their diet as theydevelop. During the caterpillar stage, they exclusively feed onmilkweed plants. Milkweeds are usually wildflowers in the genusAsclepias. It contains glycoside toxins that are harmless to themonarch, but poisonous to its predators (Environmental News Service1).
TheMonarch Butterfly population should be saved because of theirprincipal importance to the ecology includes. The Monarch Butterflieshelp in pollination since they fly on milkweed hence enablescross-pollination of the milkweed. From the research, it may be themost familiar North American butterfly, hence, considered an iconicpollinator species (Washington Post 1). In addition, MonarchButterflies are important in pest control due to glycoside substancethat kills its predators hence protect milkweed plant from pestattack.
Factorsleading to the Decline of Monarch Butterflies
Thereare three main factors that have led to the decline of the monarchbutterflies the decline of the milkweed that is the primary sourceof food for the monarch butterflies, the use of herbicides thatdestroys the monarch butterfly habitats and the illegal logging downof forests in Mexico, which destroys their habitat.
Onefactor leading to the decline of the Monarch Butterflies is thedeclining milkweed. It is because herbicide Glyphosate is destroyingmonarch habitat, filed more than a year ago, has resulted in“significant ongoing harm” to the vulnerable butterflypopulation. From the research done Pecenka and Lundgren 2015, thechemical can kill milkweed (Pecenka and Lundgren 105). However,industrial farming methods include other known or potential causes ofmonarch disappearance. One of the methods is by use of toxicity of Btinsecticides found in GMO crops (Latham 1). The pollen grain fromGenetically Modified crops falls on the milkweeds where monarchs feedand eventually dies. The method is essential to the decline ofmonarch butterflies since it destroys the primary source of food forthe species. For instance, the experiment of the USDA researchersshowed that chemical such as Clothianidin can have effects on monarchcaterpillars on the dose as low as 1 part per million hence providesapproximately 54% efficacy (Pecenka and Lundgren, 109)
Theuse of herbicides is the second factor that has led to the decline ofthe population of the monarch butterflies. It is because herbicideGlyphosate is destroying monarch habitat, filed more than a year ago,and has resulted in harm to the vulnerable butterfly population. Fromthe research carried out by Texas A&M University researchers,Neonicotinoids insecticide Clothianidin is likely a contributor tomonarch butterflies decline both in North America and South America(Environmental News Service 1). Research at USDA also showed thatmonarch number decreased from 2012 (Latham 1).
Recently,the information showed that monarch will be down from 25 to 30percent. The herbicides usually rest on the nectar hence killsmonarch that feeds on the milkweeds. Also, since monarch laid eggs onthe milkweeds, the herbicides kill them hence boost the efficacy. The use of neonicotinoids has increased in the mid-2000s, drivenalmost entirely by use of corns and soya beans, seeds treated withthe pesticides hence reduce monarch population (Latham 1).
Thirdly,the use of illegal logging down in Mexico has also resulted in areduction of the monarch. The cause of the logging problem in Mexicoarises because most farmers have converted the land into farmingthrough cutting down forests. Earlier, approximately 1.19 hectares ofland were left free and encouraged monarch butterflies to spread.Since illegal tree cutting started, the number of monarch butterflieshas significantly reduced greatly (Washington Post 1). The initiativewas important in that it delayed breeding ground for reproduction ofthe monarch butterflies (Environmental News Service 1).
Loggingof trees, especially in Mexico destroys the basic habitat for themonarchs. They lay their eggs don the milkweeds, and they are alwayssearching for them in the field. The main areas affected bydeforestation are central Mexico Mountains, which are the winterhomes for the monarch. They are homes because the monarchs cansurvive freezing temperature hence, during winter in the cold, highmountains of Mexico and Woodlands in central and southern California(Washington Post 1). According to research done by National WildlifeFederation, monarch butterflies can be found throughout the UnitedStates. Majority lives east of Rocky Mountains. Logging of trees alsoaffects decline of monarchs in Texas and Canada. During early spring,Monarch Butterflies are found in the Texas and South but as spring`sturns to summer they have seen more and more states and Canada. Whencomes to habitat, they utilize different habitats in the warm monthsversus the cold months. During the time of spring, summer and earlyfall, they are found wherever milkweeds are (Goulson, 981).
Thefactors that have been described above give the reasons why there hasbeen a decline in the population of the Monarch Butterfly. Thefactors also give a way of discovering the solutions to the decliningpopulation. For example, the Monarch Butterfly faces more dangerduring the breeding stage, especially during early stages where themonarch butterflies are active. Hence gives another way of protectingthem. Technology can also be used to give better insecticides orherbicides that do not kill the Monarch Butterfly or the milkweed. Itis therefore recommended to prevent the occurrence of the threefactors, in order to solve the problem of the declining monarchbutterflies.
EnvironmentalNews Service. Insecticide Blamed for ,Web, Accessed, 21 October, 2015,<http://ens-newswire.com/2015/04/06/insecticide-blamed-for-monarch-butterfly-decline>
Goulson,D. "An overview of the environmental risks posed byneonicotinoid insecticides`." Journalof Applied Ecology(2013): 977-987.
PecenkaJ and Lundgren. "Non-target effects of clothianidin on monarchbutterflies." Scienceand Nature(2015): 102: 19.
Latham,Johnson. Neonicotinoidlink to Monarch butterfly decline,Web, Accessed, 21 October, 2015,<http://www.theecologist.org/News/news_round_up/2821929/neonicotinoid_link_to_monarch_butterfly_decline.html>
Washington,Post. Trackingthe causes of monarch butterfly decline, Web,Accessed, 21 October, 2015,<http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2013/apr/18/tracking-causes-monarch-butterfly-decline>