Tree-eating bugs threaten Monarch butterfly in Mexico

Nov 21, 2009
Monarch butterflies in the Mexican state of Michoacan. The mysterious Monarch butterfly, which migrates en masse annually between Canada and Mexico, is now facing a new peril: another insect thriving in Western Mexican forests.

The mysterious Monarch butterfly, which migrates en masse annually between Canada and Mexico, is now facing a new peril: another insect thriving in Western Mexican forests.

Some 8,000 oyamel fir trees -- the butterflies' unique mountain habitat each winter -- were cut down in July in a bid to remove that threaten the Monarch's ages-old migration.

But now another small beetle has since taken to devouring the savory tree trunks, further endangering the butterflies' winter colonies.

"We are working to determine how many trees have been affected," said Homero Gomez, president of El Rosario Sanctuary, a premier migrating spot for the Monarch in the western Mexican state of Michoacan.

Local residents, who help manage and maintain the sanctuary, have asked the authorities to fight the new intruder by using natural substances and without felling trees.

Millions of the orange and black butterflies migrate each year when the weather grows cold in Canada to make habitat in Michoacan's oyamel firs, in an annual ritual that has yet to be scientifically explained.

The Monarchs blaze a trail of some 4,500 kilometers (2,800 miles) -- to the tune of 80 kilometers (50 miles) per day -- arriving in early November in the high mountain massifs of Mexico's transvolcanic belt, where they hibernate until February in huge colonies, completely masking tree trunks.

Thousands of tourists come to observe their majestic aerial dances in the El Rosario Sanctuary, home to five million trees of various species.

(c) 2009 AFP

Explore further: Italian olive tree disease stumps EU

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Monarchs fly south for the winter

Sep 12, 2005

As many as 300 million monarch butterflies are now flying south from Canada and the northern United States to winter in Mexico and Southern California.

Recommended for you

Italian olive tree disease stumps EU

20 hours ago

EU member states are divided on how to stop the spread of a disease affecting olive trees in Italy that could result in around a million being cut down, officials said Friday.

China starts relocating endangered porpoises: Xinhua

Mar 27, 2015

Chinese authorities on Friday began relocating the country's rare finless porpoise population in a bid to revive a species threatened by pollution, overfishing and heavy traffic in their Yangtze River habitat, ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.