By Editor, All About Wildlife, August 27, 2014
These Beautiful Flying Insects Are In Major Trouble. Here’s What You Can Do.
All across North America and Mexico, the numbers of monarch butterflies are dwindling. A conservation organization called the Xerces Society estimates that the monarch population has declined by 90 percent over the last 20 years. There are several reasons for this decline including global climate change and habitat loss, but the biggest factor seems to be a decrease in the amount of milkweed available to the butterflies. Milkweed is a plant that grows in open areas—on the edges of fields and in fields that have become overgrown. Monarch butterflies lay their eggs on milkweed, and the young caterpillars that hatch out of those eggs feed on its leaves.
During recent decades, large commercial farms across the continent have been spraying their fields with chemicals that kill weeds such as milkweed without harming the crops. Less milkweed has meant many fewer butterflies. Commercial farmers and Monsanto, the chemical company that manufactures one of the most widely used weed-killing chemicals, are unlikely to stop destroying milkweed without a lot of pressure from the American people and government, and time may be running out.
|Monarch Butterflies Are Getting Increasing Scarce. Photo: Keenan Adams, USFWS|
Faced with the possible extinction of one of America’s most well-loved flying insects, conservation groups including the Xerces Society are asking Americans to sign a petition requesting that the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service seek to list the monarch butterfly as Threatened under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. An Endangered Species Act listing would give wildlife protectors a lot more clout in convincing Big Agriculture to change the destructive way it does business.
If you would like to sign the petition or would like to call someone else’s attention to it, you can find it here.