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The Reflection

Monarch Butterflies face threat of invasive species

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Swallowtail Butterfly Photo by Alison Barnett

Over the past 20 years, 90 percent of the Monarch Butterfly population in Michigan has disappeared.  Many steps have been taken to prevent the continued loss of Monarchs, but the main factors in their disappearance have only grown.  

To combat this issue, Michigan State University’s Department of Entomology has worked to determine how many butterflies survived the migration to Mexico each year.

Monarchs must have a steady supply of nectar along their fall migration path… negative impacts from pesticides and increased disease in monarch butterflies are additional concerns,” according to Michigan State University’s Dr. Douglas Landis in Michigan State’s 2017 monarch butterfly update.

Due to development of property, the butterfly’s main food source, milkweed, has grown scarce, forcing them to turn to other alternatives.

One of these alternatives is black swallow-wort, a weed that is especially poisonous to caterpillars.

“The plant also has sap that’s toxic to mammals and insects, and produces pathogens that stop other plants from growing around it,” said Michigan Department of Natural Resource’s invasive species communication coordinator Joanne Foreman in a interview with Detroit Press.

However, the future outlook for the monarch butterfly species as a whole is not so dire. Conservationists have begun raising monarch butterflies in controlled environments to improve their chances of survival. The Midwest Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (MAFWA) has also pushed for plans that would protect habitats monarch butterflies traverse in their migration from development.

The plan primarily focuses on voluntary and incentive-based habitat restoration and enhancement efforts, but also includes priority education and outreach, research, and monitoring needs related to monarch conservation,” reports MAFWA.



I am a senior who is involved in various theater companies and participates in Marching Band. I hope to go into Marine Biology and research the habits of sawfish.


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