Monarch butterflies listed as endangered

Photo of a monarch butterfly in Iowa City

Grace Smith | July 22, 2022

North America’s monarch butterfly is now listed as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, an organization working in nature conservation and sustainability, as of Thursday. 

Between 1980 and 2021, the population of Western monarchs dropped 99.9 percent. The number of Eastern monarchs dropped 84 percent from 1996 to 2014. Many factors contributed to the decrease in monarch population, including farmers’ use of genetically modified crops that kill weeds — with milkweed being the only food monarch caterpillars can feed on. In addition, the combination of climate change affecting plant growth and the butterflies’ high sensitivity to changing climate is also leading to the monarch decline. 

Iowans and other midwestern states are currently working to support the butterflies. Organizations like the Iowa Monarch Conservation Consortium and the Monarch Butterfly Habitat Development Project provide resources and participate in practices to help the butterflies. In 2020, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources published a news release saying that the Iowa Monarch Conservation Consortium is seeking to establish 480,000 and 830,000 acres of habitat for monarchs by 2038.

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