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How we can save the monarch butterfly


Who doesn’t remember the childhood magic of a monarch butterfly flitting past on a summer day? Sadly, that experience is dramatically less common for today’s children (“Beloved monarch butterflies now listed as endangered,” July 21). The International Union for the Conservation of Nature has added our monarch butterfly to its Red List as an endangered species, citing an 84 percent population decline from 1996 to 2014. Unfortunately, there’s little reason to suspect that this trend has slowed since 2014.

But we can recover the monarch through concerted actions, as we have done with other endangered species such as the bald eagle. Loss of habitat, widespread use of pesticides, agricultural intensification, and climate change are the main threats to monarchs.


There is no single, simple solution, but we can all play a role: Let a section of lawn go wild, create a pollinator garden, and include milkweed, the essential food source for monarch caterpillars. Eliminate the use of pesticides on your property. Buy from farms that limit pesticides and maintain pollinator habitat on field edges. Support local efforts to conserve and restore land.

And ask your legislators to speak up for the monarch and other pollinators by supporting An Act to Protect Pollinator Habitat (H. 4603).

The IUCN’s Red List is a serious warning. Together we can make choices and take actions to save the monarch.

Jeffrey Collins

Director of conservation science

Mass Audubon