National Geographic

@natgeo 1 year ago
Photo by @FransLanting | For as long as anyone can remember, monarch butterflies have fluttered from all over the American West to coastal California every fall to overwinter in a few sheltered places. Their annual return has been as predictable as autumn colors are to people on the East Coast. I remember my amazement when I first saw them covering single trees by the thousands in my hometown of Santa Cruz. But their wintering sites have become eerily quiet. A recent census by the Xerces Society confirms that the western monarch population is in the midst of a catastrophic collapse. Their numbers have declined by more than 99 percent, from ten million in the 1980s to less than 30,000 today. The unthinkable is now a real possibility. Western monarchs may go extinct if this trend continues. Researchers point to pesticides, habitat loss, and drought as reasons. Butterflies are barometers for an ecosystem’s health. When they go, we have reasons to worry, not just for them, but about ourselves too. It breaks my heart that a phenomenon that has been synonymous for generations with nature’s enduring cycles may become a new symbol for how seriously the balance of nature is being upset in our lifetime. But it’s not too late to act. Go to @Xercessociety to find out what you can do. And follow me @FransLanting and @ChristineEckstrom as we bear witness to our changing planet. @Thephotosociety #Monarchs #Endangered #Extinction #Nature #Butterfly #Santa Cruz #MontereyBay #California

Photo by @FransLanting | For as long as anyone can remember, monarch butterflies have fluttered from all over the American West to coastal California every fall to overwinter in a few sheltered places. Their annual return has been as predictable as autumn colors are to people on the East Coast. I remember my amazement when I first saw them covering single trees by the thousands in my hometown of Santa Cruz. But their wintering sites have become eerily quiet. A recent census by the Xerces Society confirms that the western monarch population is in the midst of a catastrophic collapse. Their numbers have declined by more than 99 percent, from ten million in the 1980s to less than 30,000 today. The unthinkable is now a real possibility. Western monarchs may go extinct if this trend continues. Researchers point to pesticides, habitat loss, and drought as reasons. Butterflies are barometers for an ecosystem’s health. When they go, we have reasons to worry, not just for them, but about ourselves too. It breaks my heart that a phenomenon that has been synonymous for generations with nature’s enduring cycles may become a new symbol for how seriously the balance of nature is being upset in our lifetime. But it’s not too late to act. Go to @Xercessociety to find out what you can do. And follow me @FransLanting and @ChristineEckstrom as we bear witness to our changing planet. @Thephotosociety #Monarchs #Endangered #Extinction #Nature #Butterfly #Santa Cruz #MontereyBay #California