Monarch butterfly population decreases by 86% in one year
Friday, January 11, 2019, 5:53 PM - Conservation groups have reported an 86 percent decline in the populations of the iconic monarch butterfly in California.
Data from an animal conservation group called Xerces Society revealed that counts of overwintering monarch butterflies found in California had plummeted from 148,000 in 2017 to just 20,456 in 2018.
According to research published in the Biological Conservation journal, monarch butterflies have a 72 percent risk of becoming extinct in 20 years.
(RELATED: Here's how you can help Monarch butterflies)
Several factors contribute to the dramatic decrease in monarch butterfly populations including habitat loss, pesticide use, and climate change.
According to National Geographic, rising levels of carbon dioxide may be contaminating milkweed — a flowering plant that is the sole food source of the monarch caterpillar.
Increasing temperatures may also affect the monarch butterfly's migration route, pushing butterflies to travel further up north and affecting summer breeding areas.
Xerces Society is encouraging people to help restore the monarch butterfly population by planting nectar sources and milkweed and reducing pesticide use.