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Monarchs coming back to Michigan, but many died in winter storm

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KALAMAZOO, Mich. - Spring is here and Monarch butterflies are starting to make their way back to Michigan.

But there won't be as many as last year.

Two weeks ago, the butterfly's winter home in Mexico was hit by a severe winter storm. Several generations of butterflies are born and die as they make their migration north, so the population could recover on their way back, but one professor at Western Michigan University is worried about the storm die-off and other man-made barriers.

The storm dropped two inches of sleet and snow and dropped temperatures to 12 degrees in the mountains west of Mexico City.  The storm also hit just as they were preparing for their migration back to Michigan.  Stephen Malcolm, the Professor of Chemical Ecology at WMU says though they were doing well in Mexico before the storm hit.  They had more than doubled their population in the warm El Nino winter.

But, over a million and a half butterflies likely died in the storm.  Malcolm also points out that the Monarch population has been struggling the last 20 years due to human interference, like heavy agriculture usage in the Midwest and illegal logging in Mexico.

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3 comments

  • Mona Miller

    Let’s plant more milkweed and nectar sources! If you don’t have gardening space, even a pot of nectar and milkweed will feed both Monarchs and Pollinators. Pollinators are in decline, too. But, in our efforts to plant milkweeds and other native nectar plants for the Monarchs and other pollinators, we can do more harm than good by shipping in milkweed seeds and plants that are not native to our geographic regions. Native seeds and plants do better when we source
    them from our geographic area. They are more adapted to our region.

    A great source for native milkweed to your state is Monarch Watch’s
    Milkweed Market:
    http://monarchwatch.org/milkweed/market/ (to order seed plugs for your geographic area)

    Monarch Watch — Free Milkweeds for Restoration Projects
    http://monarchwatch.org/bring-back-the-monarchs/milkweed/free-milkweeds-for-restoration-projects/

    Native Geographically Appropriate Milkweed Resource List from Monarch Watch:
    More than 200 vendors that sell native milkweeds in various regions of the country are currently listed.
    http://monarchwatch.org/milkweed/market/milkweed-vendors.pdf

    Also, another excellent source is the Xerces Society,
    Xerces Project Milkweed:
    http://www.xerces.org/milkweed/
    Xerces also has a “Pollinator-Friendly Plant Lists” for many areas:
    http://www.xerces.org/pollinator-conservation/plant-lists/

    If you’d like to learn more, plus keep up-to-date conservation wise for the Monarch butterflies and other pollinators, please join our conservation group for hobbyists on facebook:
    https://www.facebook.com/groups/butterflyandmothconservation/

  • leppingva1

    Let’s plant more milkweed and nectar sources to help Monarchs! If you don’t have gardening space, even a pot of nectar and milkweed will feed both Monarchs and Pollinators. Pollinators are in decline, too. But, in our efforts to plant milkweeds and other native nectar plants for the Monarchs and other pollinators, we can do more harm than good by shipping in milkweed seeds and plants that are not native to our geographic regions. Native seeds and plants do better when we source them from our geographic area. They are more adapted to our region.
    A great source for native milkweed to your state is Monarch Watch’s Milkweed Market to order seed plugs for your geographic region.
    Also, another excellent source is the Xerces Society, Project Milkweed.
    If you’d like to learn more, plus keep up-to-date conservation wise for the Monarch butterflies and other pollinators, please join our conservation group for hobbyists on facebook called “Raising Butterflies and Moths for Conservation (+ All Pollinators).

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