A rare sudden spell
of snow - nearly 12 inches
- in central Mexico, has driven millions of Monarch
butterflies, which have their
winter sojourn in Mexico, to
a cold death. The distinct
orange and black insects fly
every year from their summer haunts in
Canada across the
expanse of US to
spend their winter in
specially built butterfly sanctuaries in
Mexico. The spectacular clumps of orange
and black coating the
fir trees draws many
visitors to the country. In the cold
weather, the butterflies move little, preferring to clump
together in giant
nests of bodies so
heavy that the fir
trees droop under
The sad plight of the monarchs has raised furious voices of protest from the eco-groups of the three nations and also avid Monarch watchers. "Butterflies are falling from the trees," said Homerc, Aridjis, who heads the Group of 100, a Mexican environmental lobbying organisation. The last count has put the deaths at a high 20 million or nearly 33 per cent of the Monarch's winter population. Deforestation in sanctuaries has damaged breeding grounds, ruining the cover that allows them to survive bad weather, say the ecologists. It is feared that the large number of deaths would mean that there will be far fewer butterflies populating the US and Canadian gardens this summer.
The fragile insect is an important barometer of environmental degradation across the three countries. Monarch populations in the current years is steadily being decimated mainly due to agricultural pesticides that poison the flowers they feed on, deforestation of their mating grounds and also increasing urbanisation and pollution.
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