My interest in butterfly research began a couple of years ago after hearing about the declining populations of the western monarch in North America. With more research I’ve become hopeful thst monarch populations will rise again, mostly due to the hundreds of monarch enthusiasts who raise and release monarch butterflies and also cultivate their host plants, milkweed.
In my daily life I have also come to recognize dozens of butterfly species on the farm where I live in South America. Crescent butterflies, swallowtails, and yes, even southern monarchs who migrate through the sierras in spring and fall each year.
Monarchs of the South America are nearly identical to North American populations (Dannaus …). I have read in a several places that the two subspecies cannot interbreed, although they look the so similar and both rely on Milkweed (Asc.. species plants). On the farm the only milkweed I can identify is tropical milkweed, tho I have seen Monarchs on Marigolds, Lantanas, and some light purple flowers that are common here along these sierras called Ramillete de Campo (Bouquet of the field).
Over the past several years conciousness has spread about the plight of the pollinators & the decrease in insect populations globaly. And, it’s true! I hardly ever see Monarchs when I go home to visit California. Decades ago during spring & fall monarchs were common butterflies. Their migrations spurred whole tourism industries along their winter sites in central California & forests of northern Mexico. That’s the bad news, the good news is that Monarchs are still alive & their populations can bounce back. It kinda depends on us humans preserving habitat & planting flowers + host plants that they need. We can do it!