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  • Writer's pictureAadya PAtel

The Monarch Butterflies

Just living is not enough… must have sunshine, freedom and a little flower."

Spectacular in form, known for their unfathomable annual migration, and frequent visitors in our backyards (don’t remember when I last saw one!), MONARCH BUTTERFLIES are iconic! The Monarch’s ability to migrate thousands of miles is one of nature’s greatest wonders.

For every one out of three bites of food we eat, let’s thank the pollinators!

As monarchs forage for nectar, they unintentionally move pollen within and between flowers. This movement of pollen helps flowering plants form seeds, which eventually disperse and grow into plants. Seeds and fruit produced as a result of successful pollination feed other organisms. Nearly 75 percent of the food crops worldwide depend on these pollinators. Thus, their existence and health have an effect on food production. In the past 50 years, agriculture's dependence on pollination increased by 300 percent!

Butterfly effect” - Nearly two-thirds of all invertebrates can be connected back to the butterfly on the food chain.

Butterflies act as lower members of the food chain. They are a meal for an ample number of animals, including birds and mice. As butterfly populations diminish, so will populations of birds and other animals that rely on them as a food source. This loss of the butterfly is the beginning of the “butterfly effect.” It will continue to affect the entire ecosystem, working its way up the trophic levels. Their presence indicates a healthy neighborhood!

Why are we discussing the Monarch?

Worrisomely, monarch’s abundance plummeted by 90% over the past 2 decades and are currently “ Threatened” under the Endangered Species Act. These fragile insects are extremely sensitive to climate change and habitat loss, and require ideal conditions for their eggs to mature.

Habitat loss in the form of - destruction of milkweed habitat along their migratory route as housing expands into their territory, use of pesticides and expansion of genetically modified crops. Climate changes in the form of global warming have affected these migratory beings.

Focus on monarch conservation is gathering pace, hoping we get them back in our backyards soon.

Humans do not exist separately from nature. The term “The Web of Life” is not just a flowery cliché. It is reality. Everything is connected. The loss of this seemingly insignificant insect like the monarch could, potentially, collapse entire ecosystems that rely so heavily on them.

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