North America’s monarch butterfly has now been classified as endangered, with researchers citing climate change and habitat loss for declines in populations.

Source: KPIX CBS SF Bay Area/Youtube

The International Union for Conservation of Nature, the world’s most comprehensive scientific authority on the status of species, classified the magnificent migratory butterflies as endangered after decades of declining populations. The decline of populations is due to the loss of plants they need as caterpillars, the loss of forests where adults spend the winter, and of course, climate change.

In making their decision, the authors reviewed 100 studies, interviewed experts, and applied criteria from the Red List of Threatened Species. The New York Times reported that the number of Western monarchs dropped 99.9 percent between 1980 and 2021. Similarly, Eastern Monarchs, which are most common in North America, dropped by 84 percent from 1996 to 2014. Both of these populations have been classified as endangered.

Monarch caterpillars can only eat milkweed, and the females deposit eggs on milkweed plants from Texas to Canada. However, habitat destruction and pesticides on these plants have led to a huge decline in these populations. Farmers began using crops that were genetically modified to withstand glyphosate, a herbicide that is used in the weed killer Roundup. This killed milkweed plants that monarch caterpillars are dependent upon. Extreme weather, like droughts and wildfires, has also led to a decline in milkweed plants.

Many experts are calling on the public to help out by planting milkweed that is native to their region. Research what milkweed is good for your area and plant them to help save the butterflies!

Sign this petition to demand protection for monarch butterflies now!

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