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In the forthcoming future, a few decades from now, the children of Western U.S. might not be able to see the mesmerizing fluttering of the orange and black little wings of the Monarch Butterfly. According to a study published in the journal Biological Conservation on Thursday, there has been a rapid decline in the population of the migrating Monarch butterflies in the west.
The lead author of the study, Cheryl Schultz, an associate professor at Washington State University Vancouver stated that this study simply doesnt just provide you insights into the decline of the Monarch Butterflies but also reveals that if things are to stay the same and no rapid action is being taken to control it, the butterflies as we know it wont be around anymore in a few decades. Thus a strong action needs to be taken regarding the possible extinction of this species.
The study speculates a calculated risk of about 72% in 20 years that the required number of Monarch butterflies wont migrate to west to sustain the population. The risk increases up to a good 86% if this continue for 5 decades. Apart from the western population of Monarch butterflies, the eastern periphery also faces a rapid decline in the population of these black and orange insects.
According to the study lead by Schultz, the western Monarchs are susceptible to a far worse rate of decline in population as compared to their eastern counterparts. The earliest sign of decline in the Monarch butterflies was noticed by the coastal residents in the 1990s, when they realised that the number of butterflies migrating west hasnt been the same when compared to previous decades.
Volunteers started collecting data to garner more insights into the decline of the Butterflies which was ultimately the starting point to this study. Researchers were positive about the decline of these insects but the statistics were shocking as the 1980s marked a head count of over 10 million Monarch butterflies but recent estimation was just around 300,000 which suggests a substantial amount of decrease within a few decades.
Schultz has linked the decline of these insects to a rapid decrease in the breeding ground of Milkweed, which provides food for the caterpillars of the butterfly. A rapid increase in cement jungles leading to diminishing greens is also to blame for the decline of Monarch butterflies. The heavy use of pesticides by farmers has also led to a statistical decline of milkweed thus decreasing the breeding ground for Monarch butterflies.