CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – Monarch butterflies have recently been internationally designated an endangered species by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. With Massachusetts known to have a large population of these butterflies, MassWildlife wants to increase its habitat.

MassWildlife will work with MassDOT to increase the population of milkweed and other native plants to help pollinators. Milkweed is the only source of food for Monarch butterflies. MassWildlife will also work to decrease invasive plants like the black swallow-wort, which is known to look similar to milkweed but is toxic to Monarch butterflies. The city of Somerville in June warned residents of the increasing population of this invasive plant.

In the late summer and autumn, Monarch butterflies migrate from Massachusetts to as far south as Mexico using a combination of the magnetic pull of the planet and the position of the sun. This is one of the longest migrations of insect species known to scientists. They then return to the north once winter ends and breed along the way.

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature estimates that the butterfly population has decreased between 22% and 72% over the last ten years.

The United States has not officially listed the Monarch butterfly under the Endangered Species list yet.