California Monarchs are Now 99.9% Gone According to Latest Count

March 11, 2021 at 9:38 pm

The California monarch population has plummeted from 30,000 to 2,000 in just one year.

More than 80 environmental groups have joined together this week to urge Congress to provide $100 million a year to save monarch butterflies from extinction.

According to the latest count, at the end of February, fewer than 2000 were recorded overwintering in coastal California this year – down from 30,000 just last year, and 4.5 million in the 1980s.

That’s a 99.9% decline in just a few decades.

The eastern population has plummeted by 85% since the mid 1990s, and is down 26% from just last year.

“Without emergency help from Congress, it’s almost certain that the western population of monarch butterflies, which famously winters on the California coast each year, will collapse within a few years,” the Center for Biological Diversity wrote in a letter to Congress.

The letter names habitat loss to urban development, insecticides and climate change as contributors to the monarch’s decline, but says the biggest driver has been the large-scale use of herbicides that destroy milkweed, the monarch caterpillar’s sole food source.

A new study shows that planting milkweed, along with a mix of other wildflowers, is the most effective way to help the butterflies repopulate.