The effects of climate change are not always about wild storms and raging fires. Sometimes the most subtle effects sneak up on us. Consider the plight of the magnificent migrating Monarch Butterfly — renowned for their thousand-mile journeys south each year in search of warm weather.
Recently, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (ICUN) classified migratory monarchs as endangered — placing them two steps away from being labeled extinct.
According to the ICUN, as much as 70 percent of the monarch breeding ground in the US and Canada has been destroyed over the past decade. Deforestation is a major contributor, as is the use of pesticides which not only kill the butterflies but also the milkweed, a critical food source.
Climate change also plays a role as extreme temperatures cause monarchs to begin migration before enough milkweed is available. On top of that, severe weather is estimated to have killed millions.
More than an example of natural delight and whismy, monarch butterflies are important pollinators, and while this classification is bad news, there are steps that each of us can take to help protect these intrepid travelers. Here are some ideas.