Chip Taylor, director of Monarch Watch in Lawrence, Kan., cautions that vegetation the insects rely on to fatten up on their way to their central Mexican winter homes just isn’t available this year.
Taylor told The Kansas City Star that Texas will be “a thousand miles of hell — a nearly flowerless, nectarless and waterless expanse,” for the monarchs.
The butterflies typically arrive at a small patch of oyamel fir trees, located to the west of Mexico City, fat and happy on nectar collected during a migration of thousands of miles.
The fat helps them survive the sometimes damp and chilly winter months in the mountains of Michoacán state.
Experts say they expect to see the smallest wintering population of monarchs on record there this season.
The butterflies spend the summer as far north as Winnipeg and as far northeast as the islands off Maine.
Photo: Casy Overby