Scientists from the Wildlife Service and US Fish announced on Monday that the monarch butterfly could become extinct in the near future and was placed under the federal protection of the Endangered species act.
The recent announcement comes a year after the agency tried to determine whether the monarch butterfly is indeed an endangered species and is in immediate need of protection.
Tierra Curry, who works for the Center for Biological Diversity as a senior scientist commented on the important of the Endangered Species Act, saying that it’s the most powerful tools that is available right now that could save the monarch butterfly from total extinction. She added that the monarch does indeed need the official protection because it is a threatened species.
The monarch butterfly is supported by important conservationist centers including the Center for Food Safety, Lincoln Brower, Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation and the Center for Biological Diversity. The monarch butterfly is also supported by biologists from the Sweet Briar College in Virginia, who instigated the effort to bring the monarch on the list of endangered species, after the butterfly population dropped to 90% in the last 20 years.
Those who are interested in the monarch butterfly say the main reasons behind its increasing disappearance include the heavy use of pesticides, the destruction of the milkweed habitat where the butterfly lives. These two major threats are responsible for the extinction of the iconic black and orange butterfly.
Researchers believe that in the past 20 years, the monarch butterfly lost more than 165 million acres of natural habitat, which is about the size of Texas.
Female monarch butterflies lay eggs on milkweed plants exclusively, which is a native wildflower that lives in the Midwest.
The Center for Biological Diversity said that the reason behind the decline of the monarch butterfly is the spreading of genetically engineered crops in the Midwest, where most of the monarch butterflies are born. The farmers use herbicides to kill the milkweed plants that grow in the corn and soybean fields. This leaves the monarch butterfly with no place to lay its eggs because in areas with heavy corn and soybean production, milkweed is almost gone.
Image Source: floridatoday