Monarch's Flight

If we do nothing, monarch butterflies have a 60% likelihood of extinction in 20 years. Once plentiful, their vital food source and habitat, milkweed or Asclepias, is now in serious decline, putting monarchs and other pollinators at extreme risk. In fact, a recent petition proposes adding monarch butterflies to the endangered species list.

As far back as 1983, concern was rising for the monarch butterfly. That year the International Union for Conservation of Nature listed monarch migration as an endangered phenomenon. And in 2010, monarchs were one of the World Wildlife Fund’s Top 10 to Watch, a list that identifies species in need of close monitoring and protection. 

Why are monarch butterflies in danger?

Each year, monarchs in the eastern US and Canada migrate 3,000 miles to the warmer climate of Mexico, while those in the Rocky Mountains make a shorter trip to California. It is the eastern population that is in the most serious decline. Their overwintering sites have experienced 90% decline in just two decades. Added to that, in March 2016 a freak blizzard swept through their winter haven in Mexico, killing hundreds of thousands of overwintering monarchs.

Estimates put the population at just 60 million today, down from 1 billion in the mid-90s. For 2015 alone, the entire eastern North American population of monarchs fit into a 2.8 acre area – that’s only 3 football fields!

Where has their habitat gone?

In just 10 years, nearly 24 million acres were converted from grassland to crop production. Some estimates say 57 million acres of the US Great Plains have been lost since 2009. That grassland was home to monarch butterflies and other pollinators. Without milkweed, the future of the monarch butterfly is bleak. During summer breeding, the monarch requires milkweed sap for nourishment, the milkweed plant to lay eggs on, and monarch caterpillars only eat milkweed leaves. They will eat many of the more than 100 milkweed species in North America on both routes of migration as well. But as more and more milkweed pastures have disappeared, the monarch population decline since 2011 has been particularly dramatic.


What other wildlife are impacted by the habitat decline?

Monarch butterflies aren’t the only ones affected – other wildlife including honey bees, pheasant, geese, quail, deer and more benefit from critical pollinator habitat rebuilding. 

How can I help?

Just $100 builds 1 acre of habitat for monarch butterflies, honey bees, and other wildlife. The Bee & Butterfly Habitat Fund has developed a series of NextGen Habitat Projects that are carefully targeted for maximum wildlife expansion and sustainability. A generous gift helps ensure the iconic monarch butterfly and other pollinators not only survive but thrive. 

For questions or more information, contact us.

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“The Bee & Butterfly Habitat Fund is the bees’ buzz! The effort is integrating the very best performing habitat solutions where they are most needed, by bringing landowners and beekeepers together in a program where everyone benefits. It’s our goal to make every available acre the best it can be. It’s truly amazing just how much difference an acre can make when the habitat is engineered for maximum productivity!”

Zac Browning, Co-owner, Browning’s Honey Co., Inc.

“This project is a unique conservation effort, targeting acres in regions where conversion to soy and corn is happening very fast. By identifying places where habitat makes the most sense, the bottom line improves for the grower, the beekeeper, the monarch, upland songbirds and game birds, honey bees and native pollinators – it’s a program that can’t lose!”

Danielle Downey, Executive Director, Project Apis m.

"The Bee & Butterfly Habitat Fund is unique in that it has found the way to plant cost-effective pollinator habitat that establishes quickly and provides great pollinator benefits. It's the trifecta of getting great pollinator benefits onto the landscape. If we try to solve the critical problems for pollinators using the same tools and methods we have used for the last decade, we won’t be successful. The Bee & Butterfly Habitat Fund brings new strategies, methods and partners together to save monarch butterflies, honey bees and other pollinators, not to mention the nation’s food supply and beautiful landscapes."

Peter S. Berthelsen, Partnership Coordinator, The Bee & Butterfly Habitat Fund