Advocates Call for Action: Monarch Butterflies on “Red List”
Tuesday, August 2, 2022
The iconic orange and black migratory monarch butterfly has just made the Red List of Threatened Species, designated by the International Union of Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources.
The insect's western population dropped 95% from the 1980s to 2020. The numbers ticked up a bit last year but remain extremely low.
Rebecca Quiñonez-Piñón, chief monarch recovery strategist for the National Wildlife Federation, said part of the problem is climate change, which is throwing off the bloom times of the insect's favorite food: native milkweed.
"Since last year, we noticed that milkweeds were not blooming when the monarchs were already migrating," Quiñonez-Piñón observed. "They couldn't find enough milkweed to lay their eggs during the spring."
The ongoing destruction or degradation of habitat is also a huge problem for the North American migratory monarch butterfly. But people can help by planting native milkweed and blooming nectar plants in their yards, at multiple intervals throughout the year, so the butterflies always have a food source.
Quiñonez-Piñón added gardeners should be sure to buy from a nursery following best practices for pollinators.
"Another way to help is to ensure that when we go to the nurseries to purchase the plants, we are able to talk to the sellers and ask them if those plants are free of pesticides," Quiñonez-Piñón noted.
Advocates are pressing for passage of the Monarch Action, Recovery and Conservation of Habitat Act, which would establish a rescue fund to implement the western monarch conservation strategy. They also support the Recovering America's Wildlife Act, which would dedicate almost $1.4 billion to efforts to save wildlife species at risk.
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