The monarch butterfly is one of the most recognizable insects in the world. They are a common sight throughout South Florida, and almost anyone could identify their orange wings. Although they are not yet classified as an endangered or at-risk species, biologists are taking measures to preserve the monarchs far into the future.
According to Marianna Wright of Texas’ National Butterfly Center, these butterflies help the environment around us to flourish through pollination.
Dr. Lindsay Bruce, a scientist, also spoke about the importance of monarch butterflies.
“They’re considered a keystone species. There are certain species that are hallmarks for how the health of an ecosystem is doing,” Bruce said. “So the monarch butterfly tells scientists how an entire ecosystem is.”
Bruce also mentioned that monarch butterflies are found in many ecosystems due to their migration. This allows scientists to observe both the butterflies’ northern and southern habitats.
According to FloridaMuseum.com, Florida monarch butterfly populations have dropped 80 percent since 2005.
“[The monarch butterfly population is] decreasing primarily due to loss of habitat,” Wright said. “Milkweed, their host plant used for reproduction, is disappearing from the landscape.”
Wright also blames climate change, pesticide use and the deforestation of the Mexican woodlands where the monarchs spend their winters.
Bruce said there are measures in place to try and help save these beautiful butterflies.
“I know that there are certain groups trying to protect the habitat and preserve the habitat especially their breeding grounds, to make the sure that the great migration, the 1000-mile migration that butterflies take annually remains intact,” Bruce said. “I think it’s probably key to their preservation.”