The Monarch Butterfly


TheMonarch Butterfly

TheMonarch butterfly is a plexippus species of butterfly that belongs tothe Danainae family in the family Nymphalidae (NWF, 2013). Accordingto NWF (2013), all these classifications are in the Danaus genus. TheMonarch butterfly is conceivably uniquely recognized from itsbeautiful pattern of colors orange, white and black. It is a commonbutterfly known for consuming milkweed during its larval phase layseggs its eggs the plant. The monarch butterflies are famous for theirmigration and return in the summer (Braby, 2000). The southward andnorthward migrations of the species spans the life of the butterfly’sthree generations.

TheMonarch butterfly is ecologically important in the beauty it bringsto the environment, especially the migration spectacle. Thebutterfly’s fascinating migration patterns, contributes asignificant role in the seed formation process and eventually thefruit production (Braby, 2000). The monarchs specifically facilitatepollination by resting on the flowers of different plants and trees.Through the pollination, the Monarch butterflies play a big role inthe formation of food for all living things. At the same time, themonarchs provide a natural mutual benefit of offering beautifulsceneries for people to watch (Seltzer, 2012). This consequentlycreates sceneries that can be utilized for the promotion of tourismor beauty among the nature lovers. Moreover, the monarchs form a partof a rare spectacle in the environment that attracts insectsespecially in North America and Mexico.


However,the population of the monarch is on the decline because of a numberof the factors. Most importantly, the Monarch Butterfly population isdeclining because of man-made activities, natural disasters and theeffects of the global warming. The discussion on the Monarchbutterfly will illustrate how man-made events, natural disasters andglobal warming are contributing to the decline of the population ofthe beautiful butterfly.

CausalMechanism Summaries

Oneof the factors that have caused a decline in the population of theMonarch butterfly is man-made activities. Man-made activities are theactions done by human beings in the process of their social, economicand political aspects that affect the habitat of the Monarchbutterfly. According to National Wildlife Federation (2013),scientists are alarmed by the declining population of Monarchbutterfly which is occurring, which indicates a threat to thesurvival of the beautiful creature. A research done by the NationalWildlife Federation revealed human activities contributed to up to80% of the population of monarch butterflies lost in the past decade(NWF, 2013).

Deforestationis one of the human activities that have significantly reduced thepopulation of the monarch butterfly. One of the areas that arethreatened by deforestation is the Monarch’s winter home in thecentral Mexico Mountains (Rick &amp Tudor 2005). The threat is theterrific logging of the tree forests that have been part of the homeof the monarch butterfly. Deforestation is caused by the increasedagricultural development in Mexico at the expense of the forests thatare part of the well being of the Monarch Butterfly (Seltzer, 2012).It should be noted that the majority of Mexicans cut the trees forhousing. Therefore, as the population of the people rises, morepeople need housing and the level of deforestation rises.

Cuttingforests for energy is another human activity that causes a decline inthe population of the monarch butterfly. Mexicans for instance, cuttrees for energy because of poverty as their economic level cannotafford other building materials (Braby, 2000). The poor Mexicans usethe wood for cooking and domestic needs such as heating.

Anothersignificant human activity is agriculture that is done using themodern farming methods. More farms are being filled with geneticallychanged corn and beans that are not the natural plants for themonarch butterfly. In addition, plants in the modern farms aresprayed with an herbicide and chemical fertilizers that kills severalacres of the milkweed plants. This is life threatening to the monarchbutterflies in two main ways (Miller et al, 2013). One of the ways isthat the milkweed is the food for the monarch butterfly, which meansthat the butterflies are threatened to die after eating the weed.Secondly, the weed is the breeding place for the monarch, which meansthat the eggs of the butterfly will dies due to the pesticides. Inaddition, reducing the population of the milkweed reduces the numberof the monarch butterflies that breed.

Naturaldisasters form the second factor causing a decline in the populationof the Monarch butterfly. The world has lost about 50 of the monarchbutterfly populations in the past decade because of massive naturalstorms and the industrialization of their habitat into town centersand malls (NWF, 2013). Natural disasters such as storms reduce ordestroy the habitat of the monarch butterflies, especially the treecover. Natural disasters also destroy the milkweed, which is thebreeding place for the monarch butterflies. During the winter theMonarchs require dense tree cover and also need abundant availabilityof milkweed plants during the breeding season in early spring andsummer.

Naturaldisasters also negatively affect the health of the butterflies andthe comfort of their roosting sites. The destruction of theseimportant features leads to a reduction in the population of themonarch butterflies. This leads to numerous migrations of themonarchs. Every year, millions of the butterflies from centralMexico, which is their overwintering ground for up to 3000 km toeastern North America, which is their breeding grounds (Johnson &ampCarolyn 2011). Therefore, affecting the breeding environment reducestheir breeding and populations.

Thethird factor leading to the decline of the Monarch butterfly isglobal warming. Scientists emphasize that the alteration of theglobal climate has led to the disturbance of the habitats of theMonarch butterfly (Braby, 2000). One significant cause is theincrease in the water levels of the monarch butterfly habitats ofwintering sites in Mexico.

Globalwarming is also responsible for making the summer breeding areas forthe Monarch butterfly warmer than normal. For instance, the breedingsites for the Monarch butterfly in the agricultural United Stateswest coast belt have become warmer because of the effects of theglobal warming (Miller et al, 2013). As temperatures of the monarch’shabitats increases, the condition of their living becomes much warmerfor the monarch to live and bring in. The change in the climaticconditions is believed to be a cause for directing their migrationsin the summer to further northward.

Globalwarming is a factor that is contributing to the disappearingpopulation of the fir trees in the populous areas of southernCalifornia. The fir trees are important because they are themonarch’s habitat roosting trees. The fir trees are declining andare being replaced with eucalyptus trees in the region (Miller et al,2013). Despite the Eucalyptus tree population is increasing in theregion, the butterflies do not breed better breeding in them comparedto the fir trees. In addition, global warming reduces the populationof the milkweed plants as a result, the environment for laying eggsby the female monarchs during winter and spring (NWF, 2013).


Themonarch butterflies are beautiful to the environment and add a uniquespectacle from their migration. However, the population of themonarch butterflies is on the decline in the recent time. The mainfactors that contribute to the decline are human activities, naturaldisasters and global warming. The researches done by scientistsillustrate the three factors as the dominant causes to the decline inthe population of the monarch butterflies. The discussion on theMonarch butterfly shows that man-made events, natural disasters andglobal warming are the main factors contributing to the declinemonarch butterfly population.


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Johnson,Carolyn Y. (2011). &quotMonarchbutterfly genome sequenced&quot.The Boston Globe


RickC. &amp Tudor G. (2005). Butterfliesof the East Coast.Princeton University Press,


Seltzer,S. (2012). LifesavingProject For Endangered Monarch Butterflies (Video),

NationalWildlife Federation, NWF. (2013). MonarchButterfly

MillerN.G, Wassenaar LI, Hobson KA, Norris DR (2012) MigratoryConnectivity of the

MonarchButterfly (Danaus plexippus): Patterns of Spring Re-Colonization inEastern North America.Retrieved from,