Tuesday, September 27, 2022

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Massachusetts steps up for Puerto Rico, the White House convenes its first hunger conference in more than 50 years, and hydroponics could be the future of tomatoes in California.

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Arizona's Sen. Kyrsten Simema defends the filibuster, the CBO says student loan forgiveness could cost $400 billion, and whistleblower Edward Snowden is granted Russian citizenship.

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The Old Farmer's Almanac predicts two winters across the U.S., the Inflation Reduction Act could level the playing field for rural electric co-ops, and pharmacies are dwindling in rural America.

Habitat Loss, Climate Change Threaten Iconic Monarch Butterfly

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Monday, August 1, 2022   

An insect species which can evoke childhood memories is in trouble, and has just been added to the Red List of Threatened Species compiled by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources.

The orange and black migratory monarch butterfly population has dropped 95% from the 1980s to 2020.

Rebecca Quiñonez-Piñón, chief monarch recovery strategist for the National Wildlife Federation, explained effects from climate change meant milkweed was not blooming during the monarch's migration last spring, preventing the butterflies from laying eggs.

She said milkweed is not as common as it used to be across the U.S.

"The main issue is the fact that we continue to lose native habitat," Quiñonez-Piñón emphasized. "So, the monarch struggles to survive and maintain a really good population size."

Pesticides sprayed on crops also can inadvertently kill milkweed growing in nearby ditches. Advocates are urging lawmakers to pass the Monarch Action, Recovery and Conservation of Habitat Act to establish a rescue fund and create a conservation strategy.

Quiñonez-Piñón pointed out people can help the imperiled species by buying plants from nurseries following best practices for pollinators and turn their yards and gardens into monarch habitat.

"We can provide the native milkweed," Quiñonez-Piñón stressed. "We can provide native nectar plants that can help the monarchs also to have a source of food while they are migrating."

She believes many people have an emotional connection to the iconic butterfly, citing reverence for the insect In Mexico, where their migratory arrival in winter coincides with the country's "Day of the Dead" festival.

"It's a great ambassador; it's in so many different places," Quiñonez-Piñón noted. "That also creates that connection between different communities and cultures."

Advocates say the Recovering America's Wildlife Act, passed by the House of Representatives but awaiting a vote in the Senate, would dedicate almost $1.4 billion dollars to help save multiple wildlife species at risk.

Disclosure: The National Wildlife Federation contributes to our fund for reporting on Climate Change/Air Quality, Endangered Species and Wildlife, Energy Policy, Environment, Public Lands/Wilderness, Salmon Recovery, and Water. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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