One way to establish the health of the population will be the population counts conducted in Mexico overwinter. This year’s numbers compared to those of previous years’ will indicate whether the population is stable. Early observations taken in Northern Mexico suggest the number of monarchs in mid-migration are strong. In contrast wide-spread reports of fewer than expected sightings have raised concerns. Cold weather delay to the northern migration, reduced habitat in Mexico, and fewer milkweeds in the breeding grounds have some alarmed. There is every reason to be concerned about the milkweed population and the use of pesticides.
Until final population counts are completed we can’t know if there are fewer monarchs than in previous years. For now there is every reason to believe this year the monarch were just somewhere else but it won’t hurt to add another few milkweeds to the border garden while persuading neighbors to stop pesticide use.