The Monarch butterfly is one of the most iconic insect species in the world, synonymous with good times in spring and summer when their presence (and that of the caterpillars preceding them) adorns fields and forests across the country.
But while they were once a common part of the landscape and traveled in swarms causing noises that echoed throughout the landscape, Monarchs are quickly disappearing in many parts of the country.
Millions of the butterflies and their caterpillars are being destroyed in what is quickly becoming an agricultural holocaust, as it has been estimated that as much as 80 percent of the Monarch population has been lost over the past 20 years.
Now, a new report is once again linking their frightening disappearance to agricultural chemicals like glyphosate and Roundup, casting further doubt on Monsanto’s operations and sounding the alarm over the use of a controversial herbicide that could deliver a final blow to Monarch populations.
‘Dicamba: A Menace to Monarchs’
The report, titled ‘Dicamba: ‘A Menace to Monarchs,’ was released by the Center for Biological Diversity, and said that the decline of the butterflies in recent decades has coinicided with the surge in GMO crops that are resistant to glyphosate, Monsanto’s controversial cancer-linked herbicide.
Monsanto insists its products are safe citing government regulatory approvals, but a huge amount of research contradicts their assertions, others point out.
The urgent Monarch butterfly situation has been expaserated by the adoption of dicamba, which was approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 2016 in order to combat the growing problem of glyphosate-resistant weeds.
Several states across the country have instituted restrictions or bans on dicamba since its approval, however, as the chemical has been known to drift to nearby farms causing widespread destruction.
In Missouri for example, the state’s largest peach farmer has sued claiming the chemical caused millions in damages when it destroyed thousands of trees.
The chemical, which was banned in Arkansas because of the immense amount of damage it is capable of causing to non-target plants (Monsanto sued every single member of the state’s Plant Board in response), is a huge part of the company’s new plan to continue evolving its pesticides-and-GMOs based agriculture plan.
That makes it especially potent at killing the Monarchs’ number one habitat booster, milkweed, which allows them to safely lay their eggs.
Very Little Dicamba Needed to Destroy Butterfly Habitats
The biggest Monarch-related problem with dicamba, glyphosate and other chemicals, researchers point out, is their ability to decimate milkweed in the wild.
Even a small increase in the use of dicamba could spell even bigger trouble for the butterflies, unfortunately.
Research from the Center has shown that just 1 percent of the minimum dicamba application rate could reduce milkweed habitat by 50 percent, even more than glyphosate.
Considering that these habitats have already been dwindling along with the Monarch population itself, it’s clear to see that this could become a serious problem in a hurry, and it could drastically alter the Monarch situation forever if allowed to continue.