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Monarch Numbers Still Low

It’s been a tough year for monarch butterflies.

Almost none made it to Door County, where they usually travel during their spring and fall migrations. The monarchs recently made it to their winter home in Mexico, but they arrived late, and in low numbers.

The New York Times reported that just three million have shown up so far. That’s starkly below last year’s estimate of 60 million, which was also considered low.

Photo by Julie Hein-Frank.

According to graphs from Journey North, a citizen science initiative that tracks monarch butterfly migrations, there were slightly more roosts observed in 2013 than 2012, but more of them were small. And where there were more than 120 reported over the central flyway in 2011, there were only 60 this year. Click here to see the graph>>

Monarchs have an astounding migration. After spending the warm months in the U.S. and having babies, those butterfly babies make their way to Mexico. Those butterflies have never before been to Mexico – it was their parents who were last there – but the butterflies always return.

“I wish I could tell you it’s such an important insect that it produces all these ecological benefits for us,” said monarch expert Julie Hein-Frank. “There are so many things we learn about this species and all species that help us in the bigger picture of our existence that to lose this understanding of this species and its migration is to lose a huge part of who we are and what we can do.”

Click here to read more about the 2013 monarch butterfly migration>>