Troubled lives of monarch butterflies … just got worse

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Monarch butterflies are among the best known types of butterflies in North America. But the population has suffered recently, especially in California. Climate change, increased pesticide use, and a diminishing source of milkweed (a plant that monarchs feed on) could be part of the problem. That’s all according to Lila Higgins, senior community science manager at the Natural History Museum of LA County. 

“We need to plant more milkweed. And we need to do that on large, vast scales,” Higgins says. “We need to all use less pesticides, we should be buying fruits and vegetables that are organic.” 

The situation worsened recently with the killing of two men involved in running Mexico’s monarch butterfly sanctuary in Michoacan. 

The circumstances surrounding their deaths are unknown. But new restrictions on logging have increased tensions between conservationists and local loggers. In recent years, illegal logging threatened the area -- millions of butterflies travel to Michoacan every year. 

“They do this work in Mexico, which is very different than doing this work in the United States,” Higgins explains. “They were doing this work knowing there were people who were not on their side.“



  • Lila Higgins - Senior Manager for Community Science at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County