You can now read 5 articles in a month for free on BostonGlobe.com. Read as much as you want anywhere and anytime for just 99¢.

editorial

Monarch butterflies deserves executive attention

Continue reading below

President Obama, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto will surely discuss cross-border migration when they meet next week in Toluca, Mexico. But people aren’t the only border crossers. The three leaders should also discuss the migration of monarch butterflies, a remarkable natural phenomenon that’s in growing danger of disappearing.

The monarch butterflies that appear in New England during the summer are part of a long, mysterious migration that takes up to four generations to complete. The species winters in a small area of forest in Mexico, not far from where the trilateral summit will take place. But fewer migratory monarchs are wintering there than at any other point in at least two decades. Once, perhaps a billion butterflies blanketed up to 45 acres of forest; recently, the World Wildlife Fund estimated that butterfly cover was down to just 1.65 acres and maybe 35 million monarchs. All three countries are at fault. Overlogging for forest has destroyed their habitat in Mexico, while agricultural herbicides in the United States and Canada have wiped out milkweed, the sole plant that the monarchs’ larvae will eat.

Unlike migratory birds, the butterfly is not protected by any international treaty. But a joint strategy is needed. In 2010 the White House hosted the president of Mexico at a state dinner with artificial monarchs hanging from the ceiling. It would be a shame if Obama, Harper, and Peña Nieto paid no heed to the fate of the real thing.

Loading comments...

Wake up with today's top stories.

Want each day's news headlines delivered fresh to your
inbox every morning? Just connect with us
in one of the following ways:
or
Please enter a valid email
BostonGlobe.com will never post anything without asking.
Privacy Policy
Subscriber Log In

You have reached the limit of 5 free articles in a month

Stay informed with unlimited access to Boston’s trusted news source.

  • High-quality journalism from the region’s largest newsroom
  • Convenient access across all of your devices
  • Today’s Headlines daily newsletter
  • Subscriber-only access to exclusive offers, events, contests, eBooks, and more
  • Less than 25¢ a week
Marketing image of BostonGlobe.com
Marketing image of BostonGlobe.com