Endangered Migratory Monarch Butterflies Are Near Extinction – Here’s Why


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The migratory monarch butterfly is officially an endangered species.

The monarch butterfly subspecies – known for its seasonal migration across North America – was declared endangered on Thursday by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

The IUCN has listed the species on its Red List of Threatened Species, which now includes 147,517 species.

MONARCH BUTTERFLIES ARE OFFICIALLY ON THE ENDANGERED SPECIES LIST

The monarch butterfly is threatened by habitat destruction and climate change, according to the IUCN.

A monarch butterfly rests on a flower Monday, Sept. 17, 2018, in Urbandale, Iowa.
(AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

“Today’s Red List update highlights the fragility of natural wonders, such as the unique sight of monarch butterflies migrating thousands of miles,” said IUCN Director General, Dr. Bruno Oberle, in a press release.

The migratory monarch butterfly, now endangered, travels 2,500 miles every two years between summer and winter grounds, according to National Geographic.

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But the species’ population has deteriorated between 22% and 72% over the past decade.

Deforestation for agricultural and urban development has destroyed essential winter shelters in Mexico and California.

Monarch butterflies land on a rock at the Sierra Chincua Butterfly Sanctuary near Angangueo in Michoacan state, Mexico, Friday, Jan. 16, 2015.

Monarch butterflies land on a rock at the Sierra Chincua Butterfly Sanctuary near Angangueo in Michoacan state, Mexico, Friday, Jan. 16, 2015.
(Susana Gonzalez/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Pesticides and herbicides used in agriculture kill milkweed, which Monarch larvae feed on.

Climate change-induced drought also limits milkweed growth, while temperature extremes cause butterflies to migrate early.

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The general inclement weather has killed millions of butterflies, the IUCN reported.

The western population of migratory monarch butterflies is at the greatest risk of extinction, with an estimated 99.9% decline since the 1980s, the IUCN also said.

Monarch butterflies fly near Oyamel trees at the Sierra Chincua Butterfly Sanctuary near Angangueo in Michoacan state, Mexico, Friday, Jan. 16, 2015.

Monarch butterflies fly near Oyamel trees at the Sierra Chincua Butterfly Sanctuary near Angangueo in Michoacan state, Mexico, Friday, Jan. 16, 2015.
(Susana Gonzalez/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

There has also been a significant decline in the eastern population of the species, declining by 84% between 1996 and 2014.

Monarch butterfly assessment manager Anna Walker said in a statement that while it’s hard to watch monarch butterflies ‘vacillate on the brink of collapse’, there is still room for redemption. .

“So many people and organizations have come together to try to protect this butterfly and its habitats,” she said.

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“Whether it’s planting native milkweed, reducing pesticide use, supporting the protection of overwintering sites, or contributing to community science, we all have a role to play in ensuring that this iconic insect makes a full recovery.


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