Monarch butterflies added to the endangered species list
Migratory monarch butterflies – the much-loved orange and black insects known for their impressive annual journey of thousands of miles across North America – are now considered endangered.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), a Switzerland-based group that tracks species and extinctions, has added the migratory monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus plexippus) to her Red List of Threatened Species. The new classification, announced Thursday, comes after the continent’s monarch numbers have dwindled in recent decades due to habitat loss and climate change.
“Today’s Red List update highlights the fragility of natural wonders, such as the unique spectacle of monarch butterflies migrating across thousands of kilometres,” said Bruno Oberle, Director General of the Federation, He said in a statement.
The migratory monarch butterfly It is a subspecies that breeds during the summer throughout Canada and the United States before traveling south to California and Mexico for the winter. IUCN scientists estimate that insect numbers have shrunk 22% to 72% over the past decade.
Warmer temperatures, years of severe drought and intense wildfires – all elements exacerbated by climate change – are altering the land and reducing the availability of plants these monarchs need to reproduce and fuel their long migratory journeys. Insects are also affected by the overuse of pesticides and habitat loss from agriculture and urban development.
There are two types of migratory monarchs in North America: the eastern monarchs and the western monarchs.
According to the IUCN, Western monarchs, who typically breed during the summer within a narrow corridor that includes California, Nevada, Oregon and Washington, are most at risk of extinction. Their numbers have fallen from as many as 10 million in the 1980s to less than 2,000 in 2021, the organization said.
And the scientists found that more eastern monarch butterflies, which typically breed during the summer across a wide swath of the United States and Canada east of the Rocky Mountains, are also declining. The number of Eastern monarchs shrank by about 84 percent from 1996 to 2014, according to the IUCN.
The group’s red list is used as a file General health scale for species, with ratings ranging from “near-threatened” to “vulnerable” to “endangered” and “critically threatened” before being considered “extinct” or “extinct in the wild”. Categories are modified regularly, based largely on conservation initiatives and other efforts to aid the recovery of threatened or endangered species.
“Monarch butterflies are hard to watch and their extraordinary migration teeters on the brink of collapse, but there are signs of hope,” Anna Walker, a butterfly and moth expert with the New Mexico Biopark Society who led the assessment for the International Union for Conservation of Nature, said in a report. statement.
She added that Ongoing projects to help protect monarch butterflies and its habitats.
“From planting native milkweed and reducing pesticide use to supporting winter site protection and contributing to community science, we all have a role to play in making sure this iconic insect makes a full recovery,” Walker said.