A new study carried out by researchers from Xerces Society indicates that the monarch butterfly population is in alarming decline, as it has decreased by almost 80 percent within the past two decades.
The experts reported that there used to be around one billion butterflies in the Unites States in the early 90s and there are only 56 million now.
This is extremely worrying information because monarch butterflies are pollinators. This means they are very useful for agriculture. A White House report revealed that without them and others of the kind, the U.S. could lose $ 24 million worth of crops that are completely reliant on pollinators.
However, Vermont might be here to save the day for the beautiful insects because, according to biologist Mark Ferguson from the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department, the state might have key role in conserving this species.
“Vermont’s meadows and old fields provide habitat for milkweed, which is a critical food source for monarchs,” he said.
According to him, the massive use of herbicides and pollutants was the one that led to such a dramatic decline in the monarch population, due to the fact that these chemical substances reduce the amount of milkweed.
These butterflies rely on milkweed not only to feed on it but also to lay eggs. The reduction of milkweed will automatically lead to fewer butterflies in many parts of the nation.
Another cause of their extinction is a category of pesticides, called neonicotinoids. These are also responsible for the increasingly smaller number of bees. It was reported that the bee population has lost almost 40 percent of its pollinators within the past years.
Ferguson also advises people to be careful what types of pesticides or insect repellents they use in their gardens or farms. It is best to reduce the amount of chemicals used as much as possible and promote a pesticide-free environment if possible. It will help preserve both the lives of so many butterflies and our own health.
Moreover, people living in Vermont are advised to provide milkweed for caterpillars as well as nectar plants for adult monarchs. The best way to do that is to allow wild flowers to grow for them to feed on.
Image Source: cdn-2.monarch-butterfly.com