Good News for Monarch Butterflies

Monarch butterflies are found throughout the United States, though a majority of the population migrates up to 3,000 miles to Mexico for the winter months.  In 1996, the Mexican government created the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve to protect monarch’s wintering habitat. The reserve spans more than 56,000 hectares (138,000 acres).

monarch butterfly tours
A cluster of overwintering monarch butterflies at Piedra Herrada Sanctuary west of Mexico City.

Over the past two decades,  the North American monarch population has plunged from 1 billion to less than 60 million, a result mostly of habitat loss. Milkweed is a crucial host plant for monarch caterpillars.  In addition, adult monarch butterflies rely on a variety of nectar-producing plants throughout their range.

monarch butterfly tours
A monarch butterfly feeding on a milkweed plant in Colorado.
monarch butterfly tours
A showy milkweed plant that has gone to seed in the fall.

Earlier this year, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) established the Monarch Butterfly Conservation Fund.  The conservation fund was formed in response to the species’ alarming population drop in the US. With locations in over a dozen states, the Monarch Butterfly Conservation Fund’s main goal is to protect and increase the species’ natural habitat.

There’s already good news on the conservation front for monarch butterflies.  In addition to the original $1.2 million commitment, NFWF has approved 22 grants amounting to $3.3 million to help save the species.  Each grant amounts to approximately $250,000. Most of the projects look into the restoration of grasslands where Monarch butterflies migrate. Key state recipients include North and South Dakota, Washington, Texas, Missouri, Nevada, Iowa, California, Kansas, Nebraska, Arizona, Michigan, Oklahoma and Illinois.

Are you thinking of a trip to Mexico to visit the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve.  Contact one of our travel specialists for more information on the different reserves open to the public.