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Part of the problem is that much of the butterflies’ natural habitat has been reduced and endangered by herbicide, pesticide, and loss of open land. Monarchs eat and lay their eggs on milkweed plants, which have seen a significant decline in recent years. The U.S. has a five-year plan to reintroduce milkweed along the monarchs’ migration path, both by planting and reducing pesticide use in areas where it grows.
Another part of the problem is the amount of illegal logging in Mexico. Logging in the forests where the monarchs wait out the winter is against the law, but illegal remains an issue, which might make all the work that the U.S. and Canada does useless. If the butterflies can’t find adequate shelter in the forests, they’d be exposed to the fatal cold and rain.