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Monarchs Endangered?

Updated: Jul 28

This is probably shocking to some, but not to others. There are a few ways to look at it and not all monarch researchers agree that the monarch should be on an "endangered" species list. The IUCN listing doesn't carry any weight as far as regulation or protection goes. The monarch would have to be put on the US list of endangered species for regulation to happen. If regulation happened, it would most likely protect the monarchs in a way that would limit research, citizen science projects, management of milkweed, etc.

I follow a few monarch scientists and some think this would be a good thing and some think it would not be. Recent studies have shown that the monarch itself is not in danger of extinction, but the migration is threatened. This is a complex issue and there are many factors involved.

Feel free to read more: (This guy doesn't hold back on his opinions.) This is a good place to find information too as it is composed of many, many orgs. They have a research review that is accessible to everyone.

Unfortunately, some people/organizations are using this announcement for personal gain. They are promoting the purchase of non-native milkweeds (like tropical milkweed) and other species like butterfly bush (which is invasive in most places) to the general public. These plants are actually part of the problem and tropical milkweed has been shown to lead to monarchs sticking around all year instead of migrating, which leads to higher parasite/disease transmission in the monarch population. Others are creating fake donation sites, offering native milkweed seeds for a donation (though what they are giving out is tropical milkweed or nothing at all).

If you want to support monarchs, their migration, and other insects that are in global decline, here are a few things that you can do (according to an opinion article by Kawahara et al., 2021):

  1. Convert lawns into diverse natural habitats.

  2. Grow a diversity of native plants. (Native milkweeds and other flowering plants.)

  3. Reduce pesticide use.

  4. Limit use of exterior lighting.

  5. Lessen soap runoff from washing vehicles and building exteriors, and reduce driveway sealants and de-icing salts.

  6. Counter negative perceptions of insects.

  7. Become an educator, ambassador, and advocate for insect conservation.

  8. Get involved in local politics, support science, and vote.

  9. I will also add, get involved with monitoring insect populations near you.

It is always good to gather information from many different reliable sources when trying to understand a complex issue such as whether the monarch should be placed on the US endangered species list. It is also helpful to wait for strong emotions to subside before deciding what to do about conservation issues. There are always people who play off people's good intentions for their own gain. Make sure to research conservation actions and consult trusted experts before going full speed ahead. New information is learned all the time, especially concerning monarchs, so the best practice yesterday, might not be the best practice for today.

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