20 February 2011

Good news for butterfly enthusiasts

This week the butterfly forum at GardenWeb, and Reuters have carried reports of a substantial increase in the number of monarchs overwintering in the forests of northern Mexico:
"... the butterfly colonies increased by 109 percent this year to cover roughly 10 acres of forest...  But while the monarch colonies rebounded this winter, it is still the fourth-lowest year for the butterfly since researchers started census-taking in 1993. Illegal loggers have picked away roughly 3 percent of a 138,000 acre reserve since it was created in 2000 but officials say they now have that illicit harvest under control."
On the other hand, NPR reports that the drug-related violence in Mexico is having an adverse effect:
Most of this violence happens far away from the butterfly reserves, but the general sense of insecurity in Michoacan has deterred visitors... Francisco Velazquez says the number of visitors to the area this butterfly season has been the lowest ever.
The problem is that in the absence of tourist-related income, local residents may revert to their old habits of logging the local forests for income.  Without those forest refuges for overwintering, the monarchs will die.

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