IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis


23rd July, 2022 Environment

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Context:  The migratory monarch butterfly, a sub-species of the monarch butterfly that travels around 4,000 kilometres across America each year, has been classified ‘endangered’ in the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species


  • Habitat destruction and climate change are mainly responsible for pushing the insect towards extinction.
  • The species has been on IUCN's watchlist for some years now, but the official classification was put on hold to direct conservation efforts to species that need that faced a graver threat. 
  • Monarchs, the most recognisable species of butterfly, are important pollinators and provide various ecosystem services such as maintaining the global food web.
  • Their population in the continent has declined 23-72 per cent over the last decade. 
  • Most of these butterflies winter in the California coast and forests in central Mexico
  • A smaller population of the species is also found in countries like Australia, Hawaii and India.
  • These butterflies follow a unique lifestyle: They traverse the length and breadth of the American continent twice a year, feasting on nectar from a variety of flora.
  • But they breed in only one particular plant — the milkweeds. The monarch larvae feed on this species on hatching. 
  • The removal of this breeding ground by farmers because they are ‘weed’ is an important driving factor for the dwindling numbers.
  • More focused strategies such as “planting native milkweed and reducing pesticide use to supporting the protection of overwintering sites”, are imperative for a significant and sustainable rebound of the monarch population