Extinction of monarch butterfly

March 30, 2023, 3:29 p.m.

The Endangered migratory monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus), known for its spectacular annual journey of up to 4,000 kilometres across the Americas, 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 critically shrunk over the past decade. Legal and illegal logging and deforestation 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 99.9%, from as many as 10 million to less than 1900 butterflies for the last 30 years. Concern remains as to whether enough butterflies survive to maintain the populations and prevent extinction.

One of the world’s most well-known butterfly species, with remarkable migratory behaviours and local cultural significance, threatened with extinction.

Do you consider the disappearance of one of the most famous butterfly species in the world a problem? If so, how should this problem be solved?

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