Essay, Pages 5 (1009 words)
The Monarch Butterfly is a great example of biodiversity. These butterflies have the largest migration in the world. These insects travel over two thousand five hundred miles from central Mexico across the United States to Canada and then back to Mexico. It takes four generations to complete this whole travel. Unfortunately, the Monarch butterfly is in danger of been extinct due to different factors that are endangering our ecosystem. In recent years the number of Monarch butterflies that migrate to Mexico has drastically decreased due to forest degradation, developing land, and severe weather conditions.
The Monarch butterfly migrates to Mexico to survive winter but due to extended illegal deforestation in Mexico very low butterflies are reaching their hibernation areas. The Monarchs hibernate in the forest of Central Mexico beginning of the year around March. According to Lincoln Brower a biology professor at Sweet Briar College; Monarchs used to occupy about 21 hectares of forest during their stay in Mexico and in the last years it has gone down to 2 hectares.
There used to be 50 million butterflies per hectare and now there are roughly 30 million left per hectare. Monarch butterflies are beautiful and very fragile. Due to the illegal logging, the butterflies have not been able to stand the lower temperatures during their winter stay and many had died before they are able to fly back to the north to reproduce. Loss of habitat does not allow the monarch butterfly to stay safe from the extreme weather conditions. Temperatures in the Mexican forest can drop to 10 degrees below Celsius due to the high elevations.
During this winter season, Monarchs are able to survive unless they get wet. Illegal logging has contributed to open space areas in the forest allowing the cold air to penetrate and the butterflies to get wet therefore not allowing them to stand the freezing temperatures. In areas where illegal logging has been extreme like San Felipe de Los Alzati and Cresencio Michoacan, the President of Mexico Enrique Pena Nieto and former President Barack Obama tried to implement laws that will help stop illegal logging.
Developing Land has also taken a toll on the Monarch butterflies. During their great migration, the Monarchs travel from Mexico up northward to the United States and Canada. After their hibernation period, the first generation of Monarchs moves north of the states to find mates and to lay their eggs in milkweed plants. Many of these plants have been destroyed due to deforestation and the creation of agricultural fields especially for the growth of corn and soybeans. Milkweed grows mostly around cornfields, the use of herbicides for genetically modified corn has taking fall for the destruction of milkweed. Major food companies spray their fields with massive amounts of glyphosate. This pesticide is a weed killer that is very toxic for the milkweed. Therefore Monarchs butterflies are having trouble finding a place to lay their eggs. These pesticides are also very toxic and in many cases, it poisons the caterpillar that feeds on these milkweed plants.
Also, the high demand for road construction and cities has created a problem for the monarch butterflies. Throughout the years the United States had clear many of the forest areas in order to move upward in the economy. Deforestation has driven the expansion and growth of the U.S. creating more open space areas for roads and construction sites. The use of pesticides to keep these areas clean of weeds has affected the growth of milkweed throughout the country.
After two weeks these caterpillars turn into beautiful monarch butterflies which they continue to fly north to Canada feeding mainly on flowers. This generation of Monarchs only leaves for about six weeks and then dies after laying their eggs for their second generation of butterflies. The second and third generation of Monarchs will be born between May and August and will only survive up to six weeks. These Monarch generations will undergo the same dangers that the first generation suffered through such as freezing temperatures and open space areas where they cannot locate food due to forest reduction.
The fourth generation of Monarch butterflies is born between September and October. These Monarchs do not die after six weeks; instead, they are capable of surviving for up to six months. This generation is the one that will travel back south to Mexico to start the new cycle again if conditions permit. This fourth Monarch generation faces drastic weather conditions moving back south. Over the past few years, the U.S. has experienced extreme weather conditions during the winter months. The loss of forest and open land has made it difficult for the Monarchs to travel back to the warmer climates. On the way back to the south they have encounter winter storms and severe droughts in Texas causing the majority of Monarchs to die. Very few make it back to Mexico.
In order to help maintain the biodiversity of these beautiful insects is best to reduce logging, use fewer pesticides in our crops, and help reduce the causes of global warming. The governments from Mexico, the U.S., and Canada had work to implement laws to stop illegal logging in the Mexican forest. Also throughout the United Stated, citizens and scientists are trying to help Monarchs through a citizen science project called Monarch Watch from the University of Kansas; where they tag the butterflies and study them. They also evaluate the butterflies for parasites to make sure they are healthy. There should also be a law where pesticide use should be monitor in order to protect the ecosystem.
In conclusion, the Monarch butterflies allow us to understand the importance of maintaining a good ecosystem. Extreme logging has caused the loss of various fauna throughout the world. Even though the Monarch butterfly has not gone extinct their reproduction has lower in the past decade. The study of Monarch butterflies dismantles the dangers of excessive logging.
- Dollish, Richard J. “Can Parks Help Save the Monarch?.” Parks & Recreation, vol. 49, no. 3, Mar. 2014, pp. 54-59. EBSCOhost, search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&AuthType=cookie,ip,cpid&custid=s8865286&db=aph&AN=94798058&site=ehost-live.