Migratory Monarch Butterflies Are Now Red Listed As An Endangered Species By IUCN

Ashleigh Smith + photo

Ashleigh Smith

Aug 3
4 min read
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What Are Monarch Butterflies Known For?

Monarch butterflies are arguably the most popular butterfly around. Their display of the iconic orange-red wings makes them easy to identify. Their adult bodies are made of two pairs of these bright, colorful wings and black veins. Females are seen with thinner veins while males will have 2 black spots on the lower set of wings. The males are also slightly larger than the females. Beyond their beauty, Monarch Butterflies are known for their long migration across North America to their overwintering hibernation in Mexico and the California coast.

These majestic insects migrate approximately 1,200 to 2,800+ miles from Northeast USA and Southeastern Canada to Mexico. The Western USA populations also move to the California coast to overwinter, hibernate, and breed (Nov-March). Because the winters of their summer locations are too cold for their survival it is imperative that they migrate and live in colonies to stay warm.

While their risk of becoming endangered has loomed for years, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has officially classified the Migratory Monarch Butterfly with the red-listing of Endangered on July 21, 2022. What does this mean? These beautiful majestic butterflies we all love are on their way to extinction if we don’t take measures to protect our wildlife and their habitats.

Life Cycle of Monarch Butterflies

Here you will find a brief breakdown of the Monarch butterfly's life cycle while the National Wildlife Foundation (NWF) can supply you with more details if you would like to continue your research.

Monarch caterpillar and chrysalis

Monarch Caterpillars have yellow, black, and White stripes. They then transform into pupae with a seafoam green chrysalis with yellow spots along the edge.

  • Egg/Ovum: 3-5 Days
  • Larvae/Caterpillar: 7-17 Days
  • Pupae/Chrysalis: 8-12 Days
  • Adult Butterfly: 4-5 Weeks

Why Are The Migratory Monarch Butterflies Endangered?

Because of continued habitat destruction and climate change affecting their migration patterns, the Migratory Monarch Butterfly has found its very existence threatened. Its overwintering locations in Mexico and California have seen an increase in habitat destruction due to logging and deforestation to build urban housing, and clear land for agricultural use. These efforts have resulted in the loss of food and shelter for these beloved flying insects.

Other actions threatening the Monarch's existence across their migratory regions include poaching, dams, and pesticide or herbicide use to kill their host plants. Over the last decade, a 22-72% drop in their population has been observed with western populations seeing the worst drops. To see Monarch butterfly sightings near you check out one of these sighting maps and report any you see.

How Can We Save Migratory Monarch Butterflies?

Helping doesn’t have to be hard. You can help this struggling population to recover by providing safe host plants for these butterflies to find refuge. Planting native milkweed, or wildflowers like this Save the Monarchs Wildflower Mix is a perfect place to start. Just make sure to plant native varieties, rather than tropical milkweed as this type can interfere with the butterfly’s natural migratory patterns. If you would like to help all butterflies, you could try planting an entire butterfly garden for fun sightings all season long. Here at True Leaf Market, we care deeply about preserving our wildlife and want to aid this cause through education and awareness.

True Leaf Market is now partnering with Monarch Joint Venture to contribute to the active conservation of these fluttering beauties. Monarch Joint Venture partnerships include “federal and state agencies, other nonprofits, community groups, businesses, and academic programs that work together to implement science-based conservation actions in the form of education, habitat, and science.”

Check out their conservation and Implementation plan to see how they are responsibly and sustainably aiding the decreasing Monarch populations. You can also learn more about the butterfly and ways to take action in protecting its habitat from the variety of handouts available for free.

10% of your purchase of the Save The Monarchs Seed Collection goes to Monarch Joint Venture, partnering to conserve the monarch butterfly migration

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Dave Weir

Are butterflies impervious to aluminum and barium dust? NO they are not! That’s what chemtrails consist of, and it kills all of our pollinating insects. I am outside on my farm everyday watching the Federal agencies fill the sky with chemicals, falling down, and poisoning everything. Our water, soil, wildlife, and our butterflies. The only climate change happening is from chemtrails.


Helo there! Do you use Twitter? I’d like to follow you if that would be ok. I’m absolutely enjoying your blog aand look forward to new updates. %anchor_text


I try to help these fabulous butterflies populate as a hobby I have. I raise them inside of enclosures. Is this safe for them?


I have passion flowers all along my back fence line . The vines of it form a canopy and house cardinal’s and titmouse birds : the flowers are a beautiful purple and the bees love them . My kids call it their butterfly garden because of all the butterflies. It is so beautiful and relaxing to sit and watch the wildlife:

Alyson R Giroux

I have great concerns for the beautiful monarch. I have always incorporated many pollinator friendly plants. But will be starting my first official butterfly garden this fall.

Wendy Strange

Love the seeds you are doing for the monarch’s! It is so sad they are endangered! Everyone please plant something to bring them back!!


Love the initiative! However, the variety you have linked as “Native” is unfortunately not native to California, and the others on the website are not as well. I would love to see some varieties sold that are native to CA, and other states that may be missing their native varieties.


I love this. I plant milkweed and other flowers every year to attract pollinators. I had no idea I was actually helping save monarchs.

Matt Ogden

Here in northern lower Michigan the Monarch’s numbers have continued to drop. It’s great to see people trying to get these little buggers back to where they should be. In years past we have taken the Caterpillars inside our home for a safe place to cocoon up and hatch.

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