Monarch butterfly added to endangered list

North America’s monarch butterfly has been added to the endangered species list by the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN).

The migratory North American insect has seen its native population shrink over the past decade.  The western population is at the greatest risk of extinction, having declined by an estimated 99.9% between the 1980s and 2021. The larger eastern population also shrunk by 84% from 1996 to 2014. Concern remains as to whether enough butterflies survive to maintain the populations and prevent extinction.

The IUCN says logging and deforestation has destroyed substantial areas of the butterflies’ shelter in Mexico and California, while pesticides and herbicides used in agriculture kill butterflies and milkweed, the host plant that the larvae of the monarch butterfly feed on.

Climate change also has significantly impacted the migratory monarch butterfly, according to the IUCN, while drought limits the growth of milkweed.

The beloved butterfly has been placed on the IUCN Red list, a categorization just two steps away from extinction.

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