Monarch butterflies numbers are bouncing back in California, despite last years historic low. Last year, numbers hovered at just 1,914 butterflies, however this winter over 100,00 have been counted. Compared to the previous year, the increase in numbers is blindingly clear, signalling a possible rebound in numbers.
“We are overjoyed that migratory monarch butterflies have not disappeared from the western U.S.,” said Emma Pelton, a senior conservation biologist and western monarch lead for the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation. “These early counts give us hope that, if we all work together, we can still bring western monarchs back.”
Why has the population increased this year?
Experts think that the increase in population numbers of the Monarch butterflies is likely due to the fact that their breeding conditions have been more favourable. For example population fluctuations can be influenced by elements such as temperature, rainfall and the availability of food, as well as other seasonal and yearly factors.
What are people doing to help Monarch butterflies thrive?
To help protect their population numbers the Xerces Society have teamed up with other researchers and partners to develop the Western Monarch Call to Action, which consists of five key steps and will work alongside other long-term plans from other organisations. These steps could help to ensure that the population can recover, if implemented quickly enough.
Legal bills and acts could also have the potential to help protect population numbers, such as the Monarch and Pollinator Highway Act (now part of the infrastructure bill) and the Monarch Act (which focuses on western monarchs), which could provide funding for habitat research and restoration efforts.