Monarch butterflies are now an endangered species

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The International Union for Conservation of Nature classified Monarch butterflies as an endangered species. On Horizon, Gail Morris, a Southwest Monarch Study Coordinator talks about the studies and tracking that’s being done for the butterflies and how climate change could be a factor in their endangerment.

What is going on?

Morris: “A little while ago the IUC came out with the endangered proclamation on the worldwide front, and this really has to do with their migration. Their migration is threatened with climate change issues because of loss of habitat. Here in the United States though, that proclamation holds that monarchs are in fact endangered. But they are not endangered under the Endangered Species Act, not yet. They are candidates for it. They are not selected to move forward in that process… but they may be by 2024.”

Why is the population decreasing?

Morris: “It is a multitude of reasons, and that is what makes it so complex. Loss of habitat is probably the number one problem across the United States. Some of that is being amplified by climate issues that we hear in our every day news. Temperatures that are too hot make it too difficult to complete their life cycle. Extreme storms can affect the overwintering sites. They can affect the breeding season that is going on right now. Pesticides that are increased in usage to protect our foods… so it is very complex with many different things.”

Pesticides used in front yards and backyards also affect them, right?

Morris: “True, and sometimes unfortunately I think we all know that at times we think a teaspoon will look really good, lets do two.”

She said sometimes homeowners unintentionally may use more pesticides than necessary, causing further harm to the butterflies.

Morris said their journey is incredibly long, and can travel thousands of miles.

Gail Morris, a Southwest Monarch Study Coordinator

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