Mexico has designated almost 140,000 acres of forest as a protected area for wintering monarchs, but Jaramillo-López says much of this area is really just a buffer zone that prevents strong winds from damaging the core area where the monarchs congregate. So even if the area being razed for avocado cultivation is at a lower elevation than butterflies prefer, it can still affect the forests on which they rely. According to Jepsen, people can also do damage to wild populations by trying to raise monarch eggs bought from commercial suppliers. There’s very little oversight, she says, which means that even if you’re trying to help monarchs, you might be inadvertently spreading disease. “The best thing you can do,” says Jepsen, “is to provide habitat for monarchs and just let them do their thing.” How might a refugee be inadvertently hurt or hindered?
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