On Thursday, July 21, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) declared the migratory monarch butterfly endangered and added it to the Red List of Threatened Species.
The popular orange insect is most famous for its unique two-way migration patterns. Unlike any other butterfly, migratory monarchs that live in eastern North America will move to the Sierra Madre mountains in Mexico every winter.
Meanwhile, migratory monarchs located in the west will travel to California’s coastal regions, according to the U.S. Forest Service.
Now, though, food shortages, habitat loss, and climate change are threatening the stability of the species.
First, monarchs depend on milkweed leaves while caterpillars. But, due to the rise of droughts, milkweed growth has been decreasing.
Moreover, the use of glyphosate herbicide on crops such as soybeans and corn has contributed to the rapid decline of the food source.
On top of this, rising national temperatures have also pushed monarchs to embark on earlier migrations.
Plus, the rise of logging and deforestation have shrunk the available habitats that monarchs seek while wintering in Mexico and California.
Now, the IUCN has estimated that the national population of migratory monarchs has been decimated between twenty-two and seventy-two percent over the last ten years.
Sign up for Chip Chick’s newsletter and get stories like this delivered straight to your inbox.