Monarch butterflies dying out
The western monarch butterfly may be heading for extinction, reports CNN.com. In the 1980s, up to 10 million of these beautiful insects would overwinter in California each year, having migrated from inland areas of the western U.S. But a mere 30,000 monarchs were counted in California last year. That’s an 86 percent drop from 2017, and below the number scientists think is necessary to sustain the population. Conservationists believe the main causes of the decline are droughts brought on by climate change, and habitat destruction—the acreage of milkweed, a food source and the only plant the insects lay their eggs on, has been shrinking. The nonprofit Xerces Society, which carries out an annual Thanksgiving monarch count, notes that the drop-off has come despite extensive conservation efforts by environmental groups and state and federal agencies. “If we want to have monarchs migrate through the western U.S., as they have for centuries, sustained work is needed,” the organization said in a statement. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will likely announce in June whether the monarchs should be protected under the Endangered Species Act.