From National Public Radio (Michael Levitt and Christopher Intagliata):
Every year, monarch butterflies from all over the western U.S. migrate to coastal California, to escape the harsh winter weather. In the 1980s and ’90s, more than a million made the trip each year.
Those numbers have plummeted by more than 99% in recent years.
“The last few years we’ve had less than 30,000 butterflies,” biologist Emma Pelton said. “Last year, we actually dropped below 2,000 butterflies. So really an order of magnitude change in a short time period.”
Pelton works with the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation and says pesticides and habitat loss play a role in that decline.
But this year, the numbers are starting to pick up. Biologists and volunteers across California have already counted more than 100,000 monarchs.
Richard Rachman is the coordinator for the Xerces Society’s annual Thanksgiving monarch count in Los Angeles County, and has been buoyed by the numbers.