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How to save the endangered monarch butterfly

A monarch butterfly rests on a plant at Abbott's Mill Nature Center in Milford, Del., Monday, July 29, 2019. Farming and other human development have eradicated state-size swaths of its native milkweed habitat, cutting the butterfly's numbers by 90% over the last two decades. It is now being considered for listing under the Endangered Species Act. (Carolyn Kaster/AP)
A monarch butterfly rests on a plant at Abbott's Mill Nature Center in Milford, Del., Monday, July 29, 2019. Farming and other human development have eradicated state-size swaths of its native milkweed habitat, cutting the butterfly's numbers by 90% over the last two decades. It is now being considered for listing under the Endangered Species Act. (Carolyn Kaster/AP)

Every year, migratory monarch butterflies travel thousands of miles across North America.

“Imagine the fact these butterflies migrate to Mexico,” Chip Taylor, founder and director of Monarch Watch, says. “How does something that weight about half a gram manage to do what you can’t do?”

But for decades, their population has been declining. And now, the monarchs are endangered.

“What researchers have modeled and predicted as sustainable population size for eastern monarchs is about six hectors of area occupied,” Wendy Caldwell, executive director of Monarch Joint Venture, says. “To gauge where we are today, last year the population was just under three hectors.”

Today, On Point: The fragile beauty of the monarch butterfly. Can they be saved?

Guests

Orley “Chip” Taylor, founder and director of Monarch Watch, a nonprofit that focuses on the monarch butterfly, its habitat and fall migration. Professor emeritus at the department of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Kansas.

Wendy Caldwell, executive director of Monarch Joint Venture, a nonprofit that builds a national partnership of federal and state agencies, nonprofits and other groups to conserve monarch butterflies and other pollinators. (@WendyJCaldwell)

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Jose Luis Alvarez, co-founder of Forests for Monarchs and owner and expert tree nurseryman of the Vivero Forestal nursery.

Martha Askins, retired lawyer in Madison, Wisconsin who’s been monitoring monarch butterflies at the University of Wisconsin Arboretum, and in her own backyard.

This article was originally published on WBUR.org.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.