Climate Change Could Wipe Out Monarch Butterflies

Monarch butterflies could find themselves in serious trouble within 50 years because of climate change, according to new research published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Monarchs make an annual migration of more than 2,000 miles from spots as far north as the U.S.-Canada border to wintering grounds in Mexican fir forests; climatic shifts predicted for those forests could make them too wet for the colorful butterflies, causing a massive die-off of the species. “The conditions that monarchs need to survive the winter are not predicted to exist anywhere near the present overwintering sites,” said study coauthor Karen Oberhauser of the University of Minnesota. And climate change isn’t the only threat to the monarchs’ wintering grounds: Logging, forest fires, and conversion of forest to farmland are also putting pressure on the species.