KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) Migrating monarch butterflies are facing especially dire conditions this year as they pass through the Midwest on their yearly migration to northern Mexico.
Chip Taylor, director of Lawrence-based Monarch Watch, said that in a normal year, butterflies visit a lot of flowers as they migrate south from their summer range, which stretches from New England to the Dakotas.
The University of Kansas ecology and evolutionary biology professor said the monarchs survive the winter by living off the fats they consume on the way to the woods west of Mexico City.
But this year, their path will take them through Texas, where much of the vegetation has dried up in the hottest summer on record. And many of the surviving plants were burned in wildfires that have blackened millions of acres.
Taylor described it as “a thousand miles of hell a nearly flowerless/nectarless and waterless expanse.”
Taylor said the number of monarchs has been declining and he fears this year’s conditions won’t help. He wondered how many monarchs will make the fall trip safely but arrive too skinny to survive the winter or reproduce on the return trip north.
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