If you’re not familiar with the Monarch butterfly, you may be wondering, “Why are monarch butterflies endangered?” These butterflies are widely distributed across North America, but they are in grave danger of extinction due to the destruction of their habitat and climate change. According to the IUCN, monarch butterflies meet the criteria for endangered species, but have not yet been listed under the Endangered Species Act.
The decline in Monarch butterfly populations is largely attributable to climate change. As temperatures rise, milkweed is not growing as fast, reducing the monarch’s food supply. A recent study published in the journal Global Change Biology found that warmer temperatures are causing earlier migrations. Thankfully, the Monarch’s population has recovered in the summer and may even be offsetting the loss they suffered in the winter.
Although the population of monarchs in Mexico has dropped dramatically since the 1980s, the eastern population still contains around 90 percent of the species’ population. Until recently, the eastern population was thought to number about three hundred million butterflies, but it has since dropped to 60 million. On the other hand, the population in the Western part of the country made a remarkable comeback this winter, growing from 2,000 butterflies to 247,000 butterflies. Nevertheless, these numbers are far below historical levels.
Monarch butterflies have become a symbol of America, and a great many people have joined forces to protect them. Their decline is being attributed to global warming, pesticides, illegal logging, and other threats. As a result, people can play a role in their recovery by volunteering.