Why Are Monarch Butterflies Endangered, and How Can We Save Them?
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? As of 2022, this species is considered at risk of going extinct.
Why Are Monarch Butterflies Endangered?
One of the roles of the International Union for Conservation of Nature is to track the state of different species and advise governments on what creatures require protection. Their list, called the IUCN Red List, contains tens of thousands of creatures. The monarch butterfly is a recent addition due to its rapidly declining population.
Why are monarch butterflies endangered? The decline of these insects is likely due to a few different problems. While ongoing research is needed, three of the biggest possible culprits are climate change, herbicide use, and habitat loss.
Herbicides and Habitat Loss
While intended to kill plants rather than bugs, herbicide use has created one of the biggest threats to monarchs. 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 provides food for caterpillars.
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 is also good for other pollinators, as they require space that is safe from herbicides as well.
Are Monarch Butterflies Endangered? Yes, and You Can Help!
As an individual, you can help monarch butterflies by donating or volunteering with conservation groups. If you live within the migration route of these butterflies, you can also create a pollinator and butterfly-friendly space in your yard.
One of the most important ways to help monarchs and other endangered animals is to spread awareness of the threats they face. Now you're prepared to answer the question, "Are monarch butterflies endangered?" Show your love for these unique insects with an ethically sourced t-shirt and start a conversation with friends and family about what you can do to contribute to saving them.