December 07, 2023

Monarchs listed as endangered

WASHINGTON — The migratory monarch butterfly is now listed as endangered, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

“Few species evoke the awe and wonder that the migratory monarch butterfly commands,” said Sean O’Brien, president and CEO of Nature Serve. “While efforts to protect this species are encouraging, much is still needed to ensure its long-term survival.”

Monarch caterpillars eat only milkweed, a small group of plants that have declined in the Midwest over the last several decades, said Ian Kaplan, professor of entomology at Purdue University.

Climate change, insecticides and parasites could also be contributing to the decline of the monarch butterfly population.

Milkweed plays an essential role in the monarch life cycle, being the only food that monarch caterpillars eat.

Planting milkweed can help a variety of pollinators, according to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.

Growing native plants in your garden also can help monarchs on their journey from Mexico to Canada and back.

Consider including a variety of nectar-producing plants that bloom from early spring to fall.

Conservation practices that benefit monarchs also help honey bees, native bees and other pollinators, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Honey bees pollinate an estimated $15 billion worth of crops annually, including more than 130 fruits and vegetables.

Learn more about monarchs at

Erica Quinlan

Erica Quinlan

Field Editor