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save the butterflies

Monarch butterflies listed as endangered after 'devastating decline'

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature added the migratory monarch butterfly to its endangered list on Thursday, saying that the population has dropped drastically in the last several years due to habitat loss, increased use of pesticides and herbicides, and higher temperatures.

Depending on the method of measurement, it's estimated that over the last decade, the population of monarch butterflies in North America has declined between 22 percent and 72 percent. Now that it is on the "red list" of threatened species and categorized as endangered, the monarch butterfly is two steps away from extinction.

"It's just a devastating decline," Stuart Pimm, an ecologist at Duke University, told The Associated Press. "This is one of the most recognizable butterflies in the world."

After wintering in Mexico, monarch butterflies migrate back to the United States and Canada, where they breed. Emma Pelton of the Xerces Society, which monitors western butterflies, told AP people can help boost monarch numbers by planting milkweed.