Monarch Butterflies Now Endangered, Group Says

Jul 25, 2022

North American monarch butterflies are now on “the edge of collapse.”

The International Union for Conservation of Nature on Thursday declared monarchs endangered. The group looked at the insects' population in many ways. It found the population dropped by 22% to 72% in the past 10 years. In the US, the population has declined by more than 99% since the 1980s. There used to be about 10 million. Now, in some years, there can be fewer than 2,000 of the insects. Around 50,000 appeared on California’s coast last November.

Monarchs are not the only butterflies in decline. Butterflies of all species are disappearing. A recent study found 450 species are fading in numbers.

But the monarch is the celebrity among the crowd. Each year it migrates from California and Mexico across the US and Canada. That migration marks the start of spring for many.

The threats to monarchs come from humans. The clearing of forests is destroying the insect’s habitats. Chemicals not only harm the butterfly, but also milkweed. Monarch larvae need the plant to survive.  

Still, it is possible for the monarch to return. Monarch lovers are planting milkweed across the insect’s migration paths. The California cluster last November also provides some hope.

“It is difficult to watch monarch butterflies and their … migration teeter on the edge of collapse, but there are signs of hope,” a scientist told The Washington Post. 

Photo from Reuters.

Which of the following is not mentioned as a contributing factor to the decline of the monarch butterfly population? (Common Core RI.5.1; RI.6.1)
a. climate change
b. humans
c. pesticides
d. milkweed
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