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Monarch Butterflies Could Be Gone From the West Coast In Our Lifetimes

Researchers use new statistical methods to unearth a sobering future for the iconic insect.

A monarch butterfly collects nectar from a flower in the People's Garden, Washington, DC, 2014. Image courtesy USDA. (Photo via Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images).

It’s a common October sight in Western coastal cities like Pacific Grove, Santa Cruz and San Diego, California: clusters of thousands of black-and-orange monarch butterflies clinging to pine, cypress and eucalyptus trees after migrating from colder northern states.

According to a new study published in Biological Conservation, however, numbers of migrating monarchs are down more than 90 percent from the 1980s, and if the decline continues at its current rate, monarchs could be extinct on the West Coast in as little as 20 years.

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