Monarch Butterfly Species Faces Critical Decline: 80 Percent in 2 Decades

First Posted: Jun 29, 2015 10:07 AM EDT

The monarch butterfly population is declining at a rapid rate and now, researchers have calculated by exactly how much. A new study reveals that monarch butterflies have decreased by almost 80 percent within the past two decades.

The main issue is milkweed-a major food source for monarchs. Increasing levels of herbicide use in large-scale agriculture in the Midwest has significantly reduced the abundance in milkweed in that part of the country, according to the Boston Globe.

"A monarch that leaves its wintering grounds in Mexico will never make it to Vermont," said Mark Ferguson, a biologist with the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department, in an interview with The Boston Globe. "Instead, several generations are born and die along the way, meaning that the grandchildren or great-grandchildren of the monarchs leaving Mexico eventually arrive in Vermont each summer. Because monarchs need milkweed to reproduce, anything we can do in Vermont to promote this vitally important species will help monarchs thrive."

Vermont possesses meadows and old fields, which are perfect habitat for milkweed. This means that, in theory, Vermont officials could help promote the growth of this planet and help the monarch butterfly.

Promoting growth of a plant isn't the only thing that could help monarchs. Being careful of what types of pesticides or insect repellents that people use in their gardens or on their farms could be crucial to saving these insects.

For now, though, these insects remain in danger as pesticide use increases and as their habitat declines.

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