Monarch butterflies are now an endangered species. That’s according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The group made its announcement on July 21.
The IUCN says the monarch butterfly population in North America has dropped between 22% and 72% in a 10-year period. The IUCN’s “endangered” category is two steps away from “extinct” on its Red List of Threatened Species.
“It’s just a devastating decline,” Stuart Pimm says. He’s an ecologist at Duke University. Pimm calls the monarch “one of the most recognizable butterflies in the world.”
The IUCN says climate change is a primary reason for the decline. People can help monarch butterflies by planting milkweed. Monarchs breed only where milkweed is growing. Female monarchs lay eggs on it, and monarch caterpillars eat it.
In the 1980s, about 4.5 million monarchs spent winter on the coast of California and northern Mexico every year. “There would be these forests full of monarch butterflies looking like leaves on trees,” Elizabeth Crone told TIME for Kids. Crone…