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The monarch butterfly population is decreasing rapidly

The western population of monarchs – butterflies known for their spectacular migration abilities – are on the brink of extinction. This year, the members of the Xerces Society count less than 2,000 individuals. Last year there were 29,000 of them. The reasons behind the decline are mainly the destruction of their habitats, as well as the use of pesticides and global warming, which makes their primary food source toxic to them.

The monarch population is a well-known species due to its mass migrations. In autumn, butterflies flying south can travel up to 3,000 km. During their travels, they orient themselves in the field, using the angle of incidence of sunlight. On cloudy days, when it is difficult, they can maintain a steady flight direction using their magnetic sense. Monarchs are divided into two populations that migrate great distances. The eastern one winters in Mexico and the western spends its winter in the forests of California.

In this year’s counting of Western monarchs, the members of the Xerces Society counted less than 2,000. This is a gigantic decrease. Scientists speculate that the decline in the number of monarchs, in addition to the above-mentioned effects could also have been caused by last year’s great forest fires in the west.