Habitat Huddle

Monarch Population Down 27%!

March 15, 2017

We’ve been anxiously awaiting the results of the monarch butterfly overwintering population in central Mexico. Sadly, the reports recently came in and show a decline of 27%.

Wait, back up.

Every fall, monarchs head south for the winter and every year an official population index is measured so people like us can monitor how many are left. Long story short, they can’t survive in cold weather so they leave for a warm, winter vacation. The problem is, when they travel north each spring, they need milkweed and nectar plants to survive, thrive and produce the next generation. 

What does this decrease mean?

Over the last two decades, the population has decreased by more than 80 percent. Without changes in how we establish and manage habitat for monarchs, the population faces the serious and realistic threat of their migration failing in the next 20 years. 

Needless to say, we’re concerned.

A variety of factors have played a role in the decline of the eastern North America monarch population including changing agricultural practices, loss of critical habitat and fewer milkweed plants. The unexpected winter weather in Mexico last year had a devastating effect.

So what?

Butterflies may be beautiful, but they’re more than just a pretty face. In fact, our own survival depends on pollinators just like monarch butterflies and honey bees to pollinate our food like berries and almonds. Without pollinators, our own food sources would be in serious danger.

What are we doing about it?

Monarchs need habitat where they migrate to thrive and survive, which is why we’re working directly with landowners to establish this habitat across the Midwest and the Great Plains. Our program is unique because we identify the specific needs of the land and then create NextGen Habitat projects. We target underproducing or underdeveloped parts of existing land and then we capitalize on it – planting our special seed mixture to help honey bee and monarch butterflies populations directly - with good and nutririous food.

Do you want to be part of the solution, too?

We want to see these numbers go back up and if you do, too, see if your land fits the criteria for our program by checking our state guidelines.

“The Bee & Butterfly Habitat Fund is the bees’ buzz! The effort is integrating the very best performing habitat solutions where they are most needed, by bringing landowners and beekeepers together in a program where everyone benefits. It’s our goal to make every available acre the best it can be. It’s truly amazing just how much difference an acre can make when the habitat is engineered for maximum productivity!”

Zac Browning, Co-owner, Browning’s Honey Co., Inc.

“This project is a unique conservation effort, targeting acres in regions where conversion to soy and corn is happening very fast. By identifying places where habitat makes the most sense, the bottom line improves for the grower, the beekeeper, the monarch, upland songbirds and game birds, honey bees and native pollinators – it’s a program that can’t lose!”

Danielle Downey, Executive Director, Project Apis m.

"The Bee & Butterfly Habitat Fund is unique in that it has found the way to plant cost-effective pollinator habitat that establishes quickly and provides great pollinator benefits. It's the trifecta of getting great pollinator benefits onto the landscape. If we try to solve the critical problems for pollinators using the same tools and methods we have used for the last decade, we won’t be successful. The Bee & Butterfly Habitat Fund brings new strategies, methods and partners together to save monarch butterflies, honey bees and other pollinators, not to mention the nation’s food supply and beautiful landscapes."

Peter S. Berthelsen, Partnership Coordinator, The Bee & Butterfly Habitat Fund