Monarch butterflies that once covered 50 square acres of forest during their summer layover in central Mexico now occupy fewer than 3 acres, according to the latest census.
The numbers of the orange-and-black butterflies have crashed in the two decades since scientists began making a rough count of them, according to Mexico's National Commission of Natural Protected Areas.
At a news conference Wednesday, the commission said the count was down 59 percent from December 2011 levels, when the insects filled 7.14 acres of fir trees in central Mexico.Fewer than 3 acres now. The death throes of a population of some of the world's most fascinating creatures, canaries in the coalmine of corridors and connectivity. We've had reasons to be optimistic about the butterflies in the past, but this, this news is too much.
Las mariposas son los desaparecidos en la guerra prieta de capitalismo.
Coming soon to a species near you.