Thursday, August 18, 2022

IUCN declares Monarch butterflies endangered and adds species to Red List

This past May, I asked Should the American Bumblebee be placed on the Endangered Species List for World Bee Day and Endangered Species Day? Now I'm going to ask if the Monarch butterfly should be, too. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) thinks it should be and added it to the organization's Red List as endangered last month.*
The migratory monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus plexippus), known for its spectacular annual journey of up to 4,000 kilometres across the Americas, has entered the IUCN Red List of Threatened SpeciesTM as Endangered, threatened by habitat destruction and climate change...

The Endangered migratory monarch butterfly is a subspecies of the monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus). The native population, known for its migrations from Mexico and California in the winter to summer breeding grounds throughout the United States and Canada, has shrunk by between 22% and 72% over the past decade. Legal and illegal logging and deforestation to make space for agriculture and urban development has already destroyed substantial areas of the butterflies’ winter shelter in Mexico and California, while pesticides and herbicides used in intensive agriculture across the range kill butterflies and milkweed, the host plant that the larvae of the monarch butterfly feed on.

Climate change has significantly impacted the migratory monarch butterfly and is a fast-growing threat; drought limits the growth of milkweed and increases the frequency of catastrophic wildfires, temperature extremes trigger earlier migrations before milkweed is available, while severe weather has killed millions of butterflies.

The western population is at greatest risk of extinction, having declined by an estimated 99.9%, from as many as 10 million to 1,914 butterflies between the 1980s and 2021. The larger eastern population also shrunk by 84% from 1996 to 2014. Concern remains as to whether enough butterflies survive to maintain the populations and prevent extinction.

It is difficult to watch monarch butterflies and their extraordinary migration teeter on the edge of collapse, but there are signs of hope. So many people and organisations have come together to try and protect this butterfly and its habitats. From planting native milkweed and reducing pesticide use to supporting the protection of overwintering sites and contributing to community science, we all have a role to play in making sure this iconic insect makes a full recovery,” said Anna Walker, member of the IUCN SSC Butterfly and Moth Specialist Group and Species Survival Officer at the New Mexico BioPark Society, who led the monarch butterfly assessment.
LiveScience was one of many outlets to report the news, uploading Call to Action: Save the Monarch Butterflies!

Monarch butterflies teetering "on the edge of collapse," added to endangered species list. The migratory monarch is threatened by habitat loss, pesticide and herbicide use, and climate change, but "there are signs of hope!"
"Warranted but precluded" — maybe the IUCN listing will change the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's mind. In the meantime, people are taking action independent of government, as shown by two videos. The first comes from CBC News, Monarch butterflies now an endangered species.

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature has added the migratory monarch butterfly to its list of endangered species.
The Canadian government has not yet listed the Monarch as endangered, either. Maybe the IUCN listing will change its mind, too.

The second comes from KARE 11 in Minnesota, Beloved monarch butterflies now listed as endangered.

The monarch butterfly fluttered a step closer to extinction Thursday, as scientists put the iconic orange-and-black insect on the endangered list because of its fast dwindling numbers.
That was a popular title and description, as WXYZ used both for its own video. Sorry, no embed, as WXYZ disabled it.

Stay tuned, as I will have more about insects for World Honey Bee Day and World Mosquito Day on Saturday.

*The same press release had bad news for sturgeons, all species of which are now on the Red List, and cautiously optimistic news for tigers.

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