Butterfly, Fly Fly Away

Unfortunately, the Monarchs have done just that.

Two decades ago, a billion Monarch butterflies made their glorious, arduous journey from Mexico to Texas and Oklahoma. “The most spectacular insect phenomenon that we know,” according to Jeff Trandahl, CEO of the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.

Last year, only 56 million butterflies made the migration, an alarming decline that captured the government’s attention. The Fish and Wildlife Service went to Trandahl and asked the foundation to make an effort to turn around the butterfly loss before it fell to endangered species levels.

The foundation pulled together a $4 million fund from various funders, including Monsanto, for grants to help revive the Monarch. It has received 115 requests seeking a total of $19 million; decisions will be made in September, Trandahl said.

Some have pointed fingers at Monsanto’s Roundup as a factor in the demise of the Monarch. Trandahl said the number one reason is loss of habitat, particularly the milkweed plant where the butterflies lay their eggs.

“It’s not a collision between agriculture and conservation. It’s not this or that. It’s how can we work together,” Trandahl told NPF journalists.