Monarch Butterfly UPSC

Monarch Butterfly | UPSC


Decline in monarch butterfly population not because of migration: Study

      WHY IN NEWS:

The decline in the population of Monarch butterflies — the most common ones found in North America — did not occur due to an increase in deaths during migration, showed a recent study.

SYLLABUS COVERED: GS 3: Conservation of Biodiversity


For PRELIMS make notes on threats and lifecycle of this butterfly.

For MAINS how do pesticides or insecticides affect the population of butterflies ? How does this impact our food chain ?


The ‘milkweed limitation’ has led to decline in habitat loss was because of the increasing use of glyphosate herbicide on corn and soybean fields


These creatures are ambassadors of nature in people’s gardens and symbols of summertime outdoors.

  • The monarch butterfly is one of the most recognizable and well studied butterflies on the planet.
  • Its orange wings are laced with black lines and bordered with white dots.
  • It is famous for their seasonal migration.


  • The female monarch butterfly lays each of her eggs individually on the leaf of a milkweed plant, attaching it with a bit of glue she secretes.

Milkweed produces glycoside toxins to deter animals from eating them, but monarchs have evolved immunity to these toxins.

  • A female usually lays between 300 and 500 eggs over a two- to five-week period.
  • After a few days, the eggs hatch into larvae, otherwise known as caterpillars .
  • The caterpillars’ main job is to grow, so they spend most of their time eating.

The caterpillars then spin protective cases around themselves to enter the pupa stage, which is also called “chrysalis.”

  • About a week or two later, they finish their metamorphosis and emerge as fully formed, black-and-orange, adult monarch butterflies.

Monarch Butterfly | UPSC


  • Threats to this abundant and popular butterfly species come from habitat loss and food plant destruction.

Heavy use of insecticide sprays ,“germ warfare” against caterpillars, and an invasive nuisance plant that the caterpillars don’t recognize as non-food for them.

  • Heavy use of chemical pesticides, and destruction of the Monarchs’ own place in the environment, have significantly reduced populations in some areas.

      IASbhai WINDUP: 

  • Monarch sanctuaries protect the butterflies’ winter habitats and attract tourists, who help provide funding to support their efforts.
  • Some, however, are at risk from human development and conflict.
  • There are also many larger-scale efforts to protect habitat, better manage land for pollinators, replenish milkweed, raise awareness, and gather new scientific evidence to better understand monarchs.
     SOURCES:DownToEarth | Monarch Butterfly

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