The iconic black and orange monarch butterfly is threatened with extinction because of habitat destruction and climate change, international conservationists said on Thursday.
The monarch butterfly, known for its annual migration across North America, was placed in the endangered category of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species.
Every autumn, millions of the butterflies undertake the longest known migration of any insect, flying thousands of miles from breeding grounds in the eastern U.S. and Canada to spend the winter months in Mexico and California.
The monarch population has declined between 22% and 72% over the past decade, scientists said. The western population is at the greatest risk of extinction, declining by 99.9% from an estimated 10 million butterflies to just 1,914 butterflies between the 1980s and 2021.
The larger eastern population has declined by 84% from 1996 to 2014, the IUCN said.