Millions of monarch butterflies are being killed on Texas roads during their annual autumn migration to Central Mexico, according to an investigation from Texas A&M.
The butterflies migrate from the U.S. down to Mexico and southern California in the Fall, from October through mid-November, to escape the cold temperatures up North, according to MonarchButterfly.com.
How are they dying?
The investigation says that monarch butterflies, Texas' state insect, have been killed during collisions with vehicles due to them flying low along Texas highways.
“The mortality was observed to be clustered in “roadkill hotspots” in both the Central and Coastal flyways,” said James Tracy, Ph.D., a research associate for AgriLife Research at Texas A&M. "Roadkill spots" are areas on the roadways in which the insects' death has been the highest.
Are they an endangered species?
The number of monarch butterflies has declined about 82% percent in the last 23 years, according to Texas A& M researchers.
In 2014, the insect was petitioned for protection under the federal Endangered Species Act but a decision has not yet been made by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
The Environmental Defense Fund says a decision won't be determined until Dec. 2020 -- 18 months after the original deadline.
How can I help?
You can protect the monarch butterflies by helping identify their roadkill hotspots and sending an email to Robert Coulson from Texas A&M at email@example.com
“If signs of these monarch roadkill hotspots are near you, please send us an email, so we can come take a look,” Coulson said. “We need to know the timing and location of roadkill hotspots as the migration moves through Texas.”