In Photos: Fewer Monarch butterflies are becoming ‘snowbirds’

BY Larisa Epatko  December 24, 2013 at 11:40 AM EST

Monarch butterflies are known to flit around North America, but they live on other continents as well. Take a look at these winged creatures from around the world in our slideshow.

First, it was disappearing bees. Now, it appears that Monarch butterflies are suffering a decline.

When the chill of winter comes, Monarch butterflies with their fragile stained glass-patterned wings travel up to 3,000 miles from the continental United States to their favorite spots to hibernate: the dense tree cover of central Mexico’s Oyamel firs and the warmth of southern California. But researchers have noticed the number of Monarch butterflies flocking to central Mexico in winter has been creeping downward over the past 20 years. Logging of Oyamel trees, colder and wetter winters, and the removal of milkweed — which feed larvae — in the United States are some of the reasons cited.

A family in Westmont, Ill., raises Monarch butterflies in their backyard. Photo by Ryan Rayburn/Chicago Tribune/MCT via Getty Images

Some people have taken matters into their own hands to try to aid the appealing insects and have planted milkweed and fragrant nectar-producing flowers in their yards and widow boxes. Learn how to grow a butterfly garden.

We’ll air a report on the Monarch butterfly and its decreasing numbers in Mexico on Tuesday’s PBS NewsHour. You can read the transcript or watch it here:


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