“Humans regard animals as worthy of protection only when they are on the verge of extinction” – Paul Craig Roberts. The role monarch butterflies play in ecosystems within North America are crucial and humans pose the biggest threat to their survival, but if we focus on and prioritize their species we can continue its existence for innumerable years. Monarch butterflies are found on all continents except for Antarctica, and intertwine into ecosystems where they are a crucial pollination and food source, so without monarchs entire ecosystems will fall apart.

The threat posed to the species by humans is detrimental and can ultimately cause extinction if the right action is not taken, with proper planning and execution, the monarchs can have ensured security and safety. To begin with, there are many impacts that the loss of monarch butterflies have on this planet, and on human life with it. Among some of these impacts are the loss of major pollinators, as they feed on nectar of various plants such as Black-Eyed Susans or Sunflowers, they pollinate, and in doing this, they contribute to the overall health and well-being of the planet. In fact, they look for nectar in order to lay eggs and reproduce, and in the process they are helping a variety of plants reproduce—forming mutualism between two species.

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Many plant species rely on butterflies to reproduce for them and without butterflies, their presence would cease to exist, an effect already being seen in plant species such as wildflowers, and a loss that impacts both flora and fauna. 90% of all plants need to be reproduced through pollinators and while bee populations drop, butterflies hold an even more vital role in ecosystems. In addition, monarchs are a pollinator similar to bees, but butterflies pollinate during the daytime while flowers are open, they can see ultraviolet and have better colour perception than humans or bees, which allows them to see red when bees can’t and this draws them to distinct flowers. Moreover, monarchs provide genetic variation assistance in plant species they collect nectar from, many of these butterflies migrate over long distances and allow pollen to be shared across many plant groups that tend to live far apart from each other. This also helps to give plants a more resilient fight against disease, giving them a better chance at survival. Correspondingly, the loss of a food source is also catastrophic to ecosystems, a massive chain reaction that devastates flora and fauna. butterflies act as a low member of food chains, typically, they also are a large meal source for many animals like birds, mice, bats, and other insectivorous animals. While monarch populations decline, bird’s and other animal populations will do the same because of their reliance on butterflies as a meal.

Uniquely, monarchs indicate a range of invertebrates that compromise more than two thirds of all species, this shows which other species could be present based on the diet of the monarch or which diet they are a part of for other species. Areas that are plentiful in butterflies and moths also tend to be plentiful in other invertebrates as well, this provides ranges of environmental benefits like pollination or pest control. In addition, monarchs also support a variety of predators and parasites specific to independent species or groups of species.

In value to human life, the monarch has a significant impact. As monarchs occupy a specific and important group, they continue to gain for themselves extensive worth, as such, monarchs are used by scientists to discover an array of new information unheard of, and in the further discovery of the planet we live on. They are also widely used by ecologists in determining health of an ecosystem or as model organisms to study the impacts of fragmentation, habitat loss, as well as climate change.

Not to mention how monarchs are used as model organisms, for centuries scientists have engaged in biological research areas like diverse fields as navigation, pest control, Embryology, Mimicry, Evolution, Genetics, and population dynamics, as well as biodiversity conservation. Due to long history and popularity of studying butterflies such as monarchs, unique data resources have been discovered and can provide information on insect groups unmatched in geographical scales or timescales in any other place in the world, this research has proved very important in studying climate change, specifically. On another note, each specific butterfly has its own composition of chemicals to deter predators away.

monarchs have specially developed chemical stores that allow the repelling of predators or parasites, this allows them to find a mate and overcome the chemical defences of Milkweed plants. Nonetheless, each specific chemical composition is important, the chemical composition of monarchs can be utilized economically, giving it potential value.In relation to loss of monarchs, humans are the consistent reason of declines in monarch populations over the past few decades. At the result of human actions, monarchs suffer massive habitat loss and destruction. In the midwestern United States Corn Belt, milkweed grew and provided large source of habitat and reproductive ground for monarchs. But due to the growing farming industry and development of ready-to-go crops, much of those milkweed populations have been devastated. As applications of glyphosate were given to the land for ridding weeds, populations of the monarchs habitat were eradicated, which impacts not only he direct area but the surrounding area of land as well.

In addition, corn are planted as genetically modified organisms which contain a toxin called Bacillus Thuringiensis which can have a harmful impact on monarchs if exposed to it. Along with this is the conversion of land to agricultural land which causes loss of habitat, this means that it is necessary that milkweed and other nectar plants can be provided in other areas. However, land use is not the only cause applicable, herbicides as well as increased mowing of roadside ditches and agricultural areas have been a large contribution because it actually removes milkweed from rural areas where the plant is most valued and prevalent. As for urban areas, urban sprawl has been a major issue combined with other anthropogenic effects like ozone pollution or increased carbon dioxide levels which can negatively impact the health and distribution of milkweed plants. By the same token, monarchs are being killed off due to pesticides and herbicides inflicted by humans upon crops where monarchs feed and reside. monarchs, just like other invertebrates, can be harmed by pesticides and herbicides used in personal landscaping and farming of specific crops.

Homeowners and farmers who live across the country use herbicides on the various types of milkweed plants, and by doing this the monarchs survival is being severely threatened. This causes their death as well as destruction of their habitat, and food source, thus leaving a large number of butterflies without a home. Using weed killers or herbicides is causing the decrease of availability of milkweed, and organizations such as the World Wildlife Fund have combined, determining that losses of the milkweed plant is the reason populations of monarchs have significantly decreased. On an increased note, expansion of genetically modified crops spanning across North America is connected to the decline of milkweed as well. The flora plays a very important part in the monarch butterfly’s existence and it is used as both main sources of food and habitat. When monarchs migrate to Mexico in the spring, their eggs are laid on milkweed, but due to the extensive utilization of herbicides, the transformation of prairie land to cropland and the plating of resistant crops have decreased milkweed populations. Milkweed is a vital component to the survival of the monarch butterfly, especially as a source of food in heartlands.

In compliance with factors such as habitual losses and pesticide use, loss of monarchs can also be highly accounted for due to the quickly spreading climate change across North America. By October 2017 it was to be expected that monarchs which travel across North America should be in Texas, well on their way to Mexico for the Winter months.  However, as of October citizens of lower Canada were still seeing clusters of monarchs. Every year, monarchs are given less time to travel to Mexico for the Winter due to the climate patterns making lower Canada much warmer than it should be in October. Scientists have concluded that tens of thousands of monarchs are most likely to be stranded much farther North of where is normal at that point of the year and many of the monarchs may not have survived if not for the very warm weather.

Some think of them as a bonus generation which were able to develop and emerge quite late in season because of said unusually warm weather, the typical arrival of monarchs in Mexico is November first, but some monarchs were born late and this meant that some wouldn’t move south because temperatures were warm where they were and because winds coming from the south were too strong and the butterflies couldn’t fly through them for many weeks. Many butterflies were stuck in cold areas of both the States and Canada because of falling temperatures, monarch muscles fail to work when temperatures drop below 10?, if they don’t freeze, they are likely to starve to death because of the seasons end, the plants they need to feed their journey south to Mexico would have died off by that point. It is very important that monarchs get out of Canada and the upper United States, however, these are strong signs of climate change confusing the natural timing of the planet. Climate change delays first fall freezing and brings spring earlier than normal, this causes monarchs to get confused and stay in the North while weather is warm, but since temperatures drop so soon, they cannot get out on time.  If it weren’t for the heat, many caterpillars would have died off, but since they survived long enough to complete the chrysalis stage many will still make it to Mexico.

Over the past few years, monarchs have battled many threats caused by climate change, one being a dwindling food supply, and another being Habitat loss.Saving the monarchs take work, and dedication, however, without those components the species will fail to survive. Since the 1990’s, more than 970 million monarch butterflies have disappeared from the Earth, resulting in the decline of 90% of their species’ total existence. Additional services or initiatives are helping to restore habitats of monarchs, like partnering with the Fish and Wildlife Service, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, and the National Wildlife Federation with goals to establish and protect milkweed. The Center for Biological Diversity has also dedicated time to helping monarch survival causes; they filed a petition to list monarch butterflies as an endangered species that requires protection to survive; taken time to observe as research; as well as restoring populations. In addition, the Center for Biological Diversity has offered $2 million towards conservation projects, with this is the hope that the agency will create awareness about monarch life and requirements such as milkweed, as well as organizing direct planting projects. They have already planned and executed projects like planting milkweed seeds in open spaces like parks, forests, even patio flower boxes, as well as other land areas.

For important projects such as these, they intend to donate an additional $1.2 million to the the Fish and Wildlife Service for seeds in order to produce a large fundraising event coming from different organizations. While this is only one example of an organization willing to take the time and money needed, and put it to use, there are many more out there willing to help. Unfortunately, what we currently have is just not enough and if more organizations like the Center for Biological Diversity helped in favour of Monarchs like they do, their survival can be made permanent. While there are many ways human action risks the lives of monarchs, there are also many other things we can do to help them in the long-run. When it comes to engaging people in a cause, the best way to motivate, it to educate. By educating the public about the fragile nature of monarchs, and the simplistic ways one may help to conserve them, it can put into perspective how even the little things can make a considerable difference.

monarchs are used as educational pieces in many areas, in North America they can be used to teach of unique and fascinating life cycles, the intricacy of of their wing patterns and iridescence, as well as studies for insect migration. In educating people and children of the delicacy of monarchs it is important to teach that it is never good to capture a butterfly, this is removing an already endangered species, and contributing to their further fight for survival. To help them in their battle, one can begin by cultivating Milkweed among nectar flowers, bushes, or trees in their own garden or yard.

One may also teach children and other people to use their voice and speak out about what needs to be done in the favour of monarch butterflies. Among this includes signing petitions that will help contribute to their survival. A very helpful educational platform is the monarch Teacher Network of Canada which is a fast-growing collective of educators which teach and inspire others to connect with nature through hands-on training and developmental workshops, they are committed to giving people connection with nature through art, science, and environmental action. Specifically, the main things they do that contribute to saving monarchs are comprehensive training such as learning the significance of milkweed for monarch habitats, appropriate care and handling protocols throughout all life stages, history of tagging and tracking of migrating monarchs, ethical considerations related to species conservation, and they also create monarch friendly habitats while teaching how to nurture butterfly populations by growing easily maintained butterfly gardens. Participants are also introduced to issues and threats to pollinators, how to choose plants appropriately for your zone area, and the benefits of introducing native plants into your habitat. As for government action, and means of protecting monarch butterflies through their power, there are multiple ways that government contribution can work towards their safety and survival.

Through prioritizing and participating in species restoration and protection, government agencies can greatly assist in helping the monarchs. Currently, the government of the United States is launching projects planned to cost $3.2 million in order to restore milkweed populations for monarchs. The money will be utilized to begin a conservation fund, offering grants to landowners and farmers to preserve habitats for the thirty million butterflies still left in the United States. Further action has been taken by Fish and Wildlife Services, they have declared that the monarch butterfly species is endangered, this is very important as it addresses the government to give attention on protecting monarchs. Over $2 million or up to $3.2 million of the funds supporting monarchs are also estimated to be used in restoring more than 200,00 acres of habitat, along with this, more than 750 pollinator gardens and habitats must be restored. Monarch butterflies hold an invaluable niche within north American ecosystems that are critical to their long-term survival and humans are overall the biggest threat they are faced by, but if the world emphasizes how important monarchs are, and significant action is taken, they can continue to survive for countless more years.

Monarchs are a part of and intricate ecosystem and to remove them from that system has catastrophic consequences. Their roles as pollinators, food sources, and studies of scientific research hold extensive worth. However, threats like habitat loss, herbicide and pesticide use as well as climate change, have devastating impacts on monarchs which could quickly lead to their extinction. Action such as habitat conservation, education of the public and governmental prioritization can help with great impact. Without this dedication and action taken towards their survival, they will die off, it is crucial that Canada, the United States, and Mexico join forces to save them from a fatal conclusion within north American borders. “Like us, animals feel love, joy, fear and pain, but they cannot grasp the spoken word.

It is our obligation to speak on their behalf ensuring their well-being and lives are respected and protected.” ? Sylvia Dolson.


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