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Monday, March 21, 2016

Plant Milkweed to Help the Monarch Butterfly

Monarch butterfly resting on a flower.

Monarch butterfly populations have decreased dramatically over the past 20 years. The butterflies are migratory and winter in Mexico. Their migration includes multiple generations and requires sufficient habitat along the entire route. Habitat reduction and pesticide use has diminished the species. In 1997, roughly a billion monarchs wintered in Mexico. By 2013, the number plummeted to 33 million. This year, the population appears to be slightly up. However, an uncommon snowstorm in their winter location in Mexico may have had an impact on the population.

In recent years, conservation efforts to help the monarch have stepped up. It is too soon to tell which has helped but there is indication that many of those efforts have been bolstering the population. One effort we can all contribute to is adding more milkweed to our yards. Milkweed is the ONLY plant on which monarchs will lay their eggs. Additionally, milkweed is the primary food source for larvae. There are many efforts across the country to add more milkweed to the landscape. The effort is one that anyone can easily become part of and make a difference--simply by adding more milkweed to your yard!

One local conservation group, the Citizens For Conservation, will be holding a Native Plant Sale May 7-8, 2016 where you can buy native plants including milkweed. In an effort to further supplement the number of milkweed plants added to gardens, the group has reduced the price of milkweed. Pre-ordering by April 15, 2016 is suggested to ensure availability. We hope you can join in this effort!~

Further reading:

Monarch Butterfly Population Soars, Thanks To Conservation Efforts by Elyse Wanshel
Monarch Butterfly's Reign Threatened by Milkweed Decline by Lindsay N. Smith
It's a Good Year for Monarchs but more Butterflies Are On the Brink by Jason Bittel

1 comment:

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