Butterfly Count Shows Western Monarch Closer to Extinction

The Xerces Society announced the results of the 24th annual Western Monarch Thanksgiving Count. Only 1,914 monarch butterflies were recorded overwintering on the California coast this year, a 99.9% fall from the number of monarchs in the 1980s. “In only a few decades, a migration of millions has been reduced to less than two thousand butterflies,” said Stephanie McKnight, a conservation biologist with the Xerces Society who helps coordinate the counting. According to the Xerces Society, the primary drivers of decline are loss of overwintering, breeding, and migratory habitat in California, and pesticide use. The Xerces Society, along with other researchers and partners, has developed a Western Monarch Call to Action that provides five key steps that, if implemented quickly, can help recover the population.