KALAMAZOO, Mich. - Spring is here and Monarch butterflies are starting to make their way back to Michigan.
But there won't be as many as last year.
Two weeks ago, the butterfly's winter home in Mexico was hit by a severe winter storm. Several generations of butterflies are born and die as they make their migration north, so the population could recover on their way back, but one professor at Western Michigan University is worried about the storm die-off and other man-made barriers.
The storm dropped two inches of sleet and snow and dropped temperatures to 12 degrees in the mountains west of Mexico City. The storm also hit just as they were preparing for their migration back to Michigan. Stephen Malcolm, the Professor of Chemical Ecology at WMU says though they were doing well in Mexico before the storm hit. They had more than doubled their population in the warm El Nino winter.
But, over a million and a half butterflies likely died in the storm. Malcolm also points out that the Monarch population has been struggling the last 20 years due to human interference, like heavy agriculture usage in the Midwest and illegal logging in Mexico.