In the summer of 2015, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced its five-year plan to study of the effects of glyphosate, along with three other pesticides, on monarchs, and about 1,500 other endangered species. The federal government announced a five-year, $4 million conservation effort, a collaboration between the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), the Monarch Joint Venture, the National Wildlife Federation, and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, to combat the declining monarch butterfly population and further monarch habitat conservation efforts. Under this plan at least 200,000 acres of monarch habitat will be restored on both public and private lands.
The FWS has also pledged to support more than 750 schoolyard habitats and pollinator gardens, and to spend an additional $2 million to increase monarch conservation efforts in three specific high-priority regions needed for monarch survival:
- The spring breeding states, Texas and Oklahoma, where projects such as the Texas Native Pollinator Initiative, identify, prioritize and restore high-priority habitats as well as provide educational and informational materials.
- The summer breeding states, located in America's corn belt region, which are the largest monarch migration zone through the U.S. and need existing habitats enhanced.
- The western states, which need more information on monarch migratory patterns in that area, as well as the development of conservation and restoration plan.
Additionally, the Canada, Mexico, and the United States formed the North American Monarch Conservation Plan, with a goal to create or restore acres of monarch habitat across all three countries.
On a community level, Monarch Waystations, for example, are intended to offset monarch habitat loss by growing milkweed habitats in yards and common spaces, and encourages gardeners -- or anyone interested in adding milkweed to their landscape — to register with the Monarch Waystation program at the University of Kansas. Milkweed seed packets, provided by project, are available for creating a Monarch Waystation, each a new source of milkweed and other nectar sources for monarchs.
The 2019 bumper crop of monarch butterflies is attributed to favorable weather (no big storms to throw them off course or hurt them), decreased logging in Mexico and conservation efforts in all three countries. But some worry, that because of climate change (which often brings stronger storms), the population increase may not last.
Learn more about monarch butterflies in "Monarchs in a Changing World: Biology and Conservation of an Iconic Butterfly" by Karen S. Oberhauser. HowStuffWorks picks related titles based on books we think you'll like. Should you choose to buy one, we'll receive a portion of the sale.