On feared for the survival of monarch populations, which have greatly declined in recent years.
The monarch butterfly has been placed on the Red List of Endangered Species due to climate change and destruction of its habitat, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) revealed on Thursday.
Millions of Danaus plexippus butterfliesfollow two migratory routes across the North American continent in spring and late summer: one west of the Rocky Mountains and one to the east, where the butterflies are much more numerous. These corridors extend 4,000 km between southern Canada on the one hand and southern California and central Mexico on the other.
According to the IUCN, the monarch has seen its total population decline by between 22% and 72% over the past decade. The organization says the population passing through the west is most at risk of extinction, as it declined by around 99.9% from 10 million to 1,914 butterflies between the 1980s. and 2021. The larger eastern population also fell, by 84% between 1996 and 2014.
This Red List update highlights the fragility of natural wonders, such as the unique sight of monarch butterflies migrating thousands of miles, IUCN Director General Dr Bruno Oberle said. in a press release.
Whether enough butterflies will survive to sustain populations and avoid extinction remains a concern.
The three main causes behind the monarch's decline:
- Climate change is causing more weather events like storms and droughts during fall migration.
- The use of pesticides destroys the milkweeds that often border agricultural fields. This plant is essential to the monarch's life cycle, since it is the only food source for the caterpillars.
- In Mexico, illegal logging has led to a loss of butterfly habitat in this country.
It's painful to watch monarch butterflies and their extraordinary migration teeter on the brink of collapse, says Anna Walker of the New Mexico BioPark Society, who led the monarch butterfly assessment.
< p class="e-p">The question of whether there are enough butterflies left to maintain populations and prevent their extinction remains a concern, warns the IUCN.
For Anna Walker, there are signs of hope in the mobilization of the public and organizations to try to protect this butterfly and its habitats.
Created in 1964, the Red List has 902 species that are now extinct and 82 species extinct in the wild.
Last June, ecologist Andy Davis and his colleagues at the University of Georgia published a study whose conclusions tended to temper fears about the fall in butterfly populations.
According to the researchers rs, these data show that population growth during the summer compensates for the winter losses of butterflies.
With information from Agence France-Presse