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Mexico Hopes for 3-4 Times More Monarch Butterflies

Mark Stevenson - Associated Press
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November 14, 2015
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The Incredible Journey of the Butterflies Documentary (PBS Nova/Kapo)

The number of monarch butterflies reaching their wintering grounds in central Mexico this year may be three to four times higher than the previous season, authorities say.

Speaking during a visit to a monarch reserve with U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, Mexican Environment Secretary Rafael Pacchiano said initial reports suggest the butterfly population is rebounding.

"We estimate that the butterfly population that arrives at the reserve is as much as three and could reach four times the surface area it occupied last season," Pacchiano said.

He did not explain how the government made the calculation, but authorities conduct informal tracking of monarch butterflies as they enter Mexico from the United States.

The population of orange-and-black butterflies making the 3,400-mile (5,500-kilometer) migration from the United States and Canada declined in recent years before recovering slightly in 2014, when the insects covered about 2.79 acres (1.13 hectares) in the mountains west of Mexico City.

The monarchs cluster so closely in trees that their numbers are measured by the area they cover. They once blanketed as much as 44 acres (18 hectares).

Pacchiano said the butterfly colonies could cover 3 or 4 hectares (7.8 to 9.9 acres) this year, and officials hope to reach 6 hectares (14.8 acres) in the reserves by 2020.

Read the rest at Houston Chronicle

Related: Outreach, Education Vital to Monarchs’ Survival (Santa Cruz Sentinel)

Related: Saddening Truth About Population of Iconic Monarch Butterflies (Today)

Related: Why the Mass Die-Off of Monarch Butterflies Should Concern Us All (Dallas News)

Related: Monarch Butterflies Face Threats on Both Sides of the Border (Cronkite News)

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