Monarch butterflies now an endangered species

Bad news for monarch butterflies, they're now listed as an endangered species.
Published: Jul. 22, 2022 at 5:00 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Bad news for monarch butterflies. They’re now listed as an endangered species. But there’s still hope.

Thursday, the International Union for Conservation of Nature put the iconic orange and black butterfly on its red list for threatened species.

“From the 1980s to 2021 [there’s been] about a 99% decline from about 10 million to about 2,000 in 2021,” said Lane Proctor, Supervisor of the Butterfly Pavilion at Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium.

This species is important for the ecosystem in many ways.

“It’s definitely important to have a good diversity of butterflies and insects to make sure crops are getting pollinated, flowers are getting pollinated, for the health of gardens, ecosystems, crops. It’s a huge economic importance,” said Proctor.

The zoo’s outreach coordinator also explained why the monarch butterfly population needs to be restored.

“Because they’re so visible as such an iconic species, that as we see their population go, that’s really going to impact all pollinators: birds, bats, other insets,” said Brian Priesman.

The last decade has seen a sharp decline of the butterfly.

“Habitat loss is probably the biggest threat to monarchs,” said Priesman.

That loss is through urbanization of their migration paths, reduction of wild plants, and climate change.

One way to help at home is to plant your own garden with milkweed. Milkweed is the only thing that adult monarch butterflies will lay their eggs on.

But if you don’t have the means to plant a garden, experts say there are other ways to help.

The Monarch Tagging Project at the Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium starts this fall.

You learn how to safely capture and tag butterflies as they migrate south. That way conservationists can study their pathway.

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