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Are Monarch Butterflies Endangered? | BeCause Tees

Are Monarch Butterflies Endangered?

Monarch butterflies are iconic insects native to North America. These large orange and black butterflies possess many unique traits and are an important part of the biodiversity of our continent. Are monarch butterflies endangered? Very sadly, this species is considered at risk of going extinct.

IUCN Declares Monarch Butterflies are Endangered

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) announced on July 21st 2022 that the migratory monarch butterfly has entered the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species as Endangered. It's been a recent addition to the list due to its rapidly declining population.

According to the IUCN, the eastern population declined by 84% between 1996 and 2014. It’s estimated that the western population has declined by a staggering 99.9% from the 1980s to 2021. From around 10 million butterflies in the 1980s, to just 1,914 in 2021, the statistics are extremely concerning.

Why Are Monarch Butterflies Endangered?

The decline of these insects is likely due to a few different problems. While ongoing research is needed, 3 of the biggest possible culprits are climate change, herbicide use, and habitat loss.

Herbicide Use

While intended to kill plants rather than bugs, herbicide use has created one of the biggest threats to monarchs and other pollinators. Herbicides are often intended to remove just a few weeds, but they almost always have cascading effects that put many other species at risk.

In the case of monarchs, herbicides wipe out milkweed, a plant that is central to the insect's lifestyle. It is the only place on which these butterflies lay eggs and it provides food for caterpillars.

Habitat Loss

Larges areas of the winter shelter the butterflies need in Mexico and California have been destroyed by deforestation and logging.

Climate Change

Climate change impacts every living thing, but it is especially difficult for species that migrate or rely on consistent changing seasons to adapt to. Are monarch butterflies endangered because of climate change? At the very least, the more extreme seasons caused by a changing climate aren't helping their case.

These insects are famous for their annual migration south to spend the winter in Mexico and California. The changing climate may lead to them migrating at the wrong time or cause extreme weather that kills the butterflies and wipes out the natural habitats they rely on.

What Is Being Done To Protect Monarch Butterflies?

While learning about the decline of these butterflies can be disheartening, there is still time to save this beautiful species. Being put on the IUCN Redlist has created greater awareness of the danger monarchs are in.

There are also many volunteer efforts taking place to help this iconic species recover. Conservation projects for helping butterflies are focused on preserving their habit, especially milkweed plants in migration areas. Helping monarch butterflies often means helping other pollinators, as they require space that is safe from herbicides as well.

How You Can Help Endangered Monarchs 

As an individual, there are plenty of ways to help monarch butterflies, including:

  • Donating or volunteering with conservation groups. BeCause Tees is proud to support Pollinator Partnership as part of our mission.
  • Planting native milkweed.
  • Using no herbicides and pesticides.
  • Plant more native wildflowers into the fall to provide nectar.
  • Raising awareness of the need to protect monarchs and their habitats.

 

Now you're prepared to answer the question, "Are monarch butterflies endangered?" Show your love for these unique insects with an ethically sourced pollinator shirt and start a conversation with friends and family about what you can do to contribute to saving them.

 

1 Response

Maureen Bloesch

Maureen Bloesch

February 09, 2023

I have planted over 50 milkweed plants and enjoy the new ones that crop up. But, what are the little beetles , this past summer, that covered the open pod….are they harming the eggs?

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