Monarch Butterflies- A Beautiful Endagered Species
A good sign that spring and summer have arrived are the arrival of our beautiful butterflies. As soon as the flowers start blooming, the butterflies start showing up. But in recent years you may have noticed less and less butterflies showing up to our gardens. Reasons for this could be that the butterfly population continues to drop year after year. Butterflies are delicate creatures and are threatened by pesticides, climate change, loss of habitat, and roadkill as they travel to their migration sites.
One of the most recognizable butterflies, who is not immune to these issues, are the Monarch butterflies. Monarchs are famous for their seasonal migrations, with millions of them migrating from Canada and the United States to Southern California and Mexico. As the days get shorter and the weather cools down, they instinctively know its time to leave their breeding grounds, the only home they’ve known, and head south where it’s warmer. Some of these butterflies travel up to 3,000 miles! Incredibly so, they use the sun to stay on course, as well as a magnetic compass to help them navigate on cloudy days.
Now, it’s not only their amazing instincts that make these creatures so incredible, but as pollinators, the monarch butterfly migration across the continent provides an invaluable service, essential for many ecosystems to thrive. It is thanks to pollinators, such as these beautiful Monarchs, that we have many of the flower and dietary stables that we enjoy. Not only are they a sight to see, incredible to study, but they also help our ecosystem.
Now, with all this said, it is sad to see their quick decline. It is estimated that Western monarchs have declined more than 99% since the 1980’s and eastern monarchs by an estimated 80%. As of today, Thursday July 21st, 2022, The International Union for Conservation of Nature declared Monarch Butterflies as an endangered species. So, what can we do to help these butterflies? Various projects exist across North America and a few simple things we can do in our own homes to help out. Here are a few:
1.Plant native milkweed (Just look up the type that’s right for your region). Plant milkweed native to your area to promote biodiversity and enable their natural migration pattern.
2.Don’t use pesticides in your own garden.Many pesticies include a herbicide that kills milkweed. Since milkweed is the only plnat monarch larvea eat and the only plant the monarch will lay its eggs it, without it, it will cease to exist.
3.Use FSC Certified Wood.Many butterflies rely on the forest in Mexico as winter habitat, but illegal logging reduces their acres of trees left for the butterflies. By buying FSC certified wood, you ensure the monarchs have a place to return.
4.Learn more about organizations like Save Our Monarchs and Monarch Watch. Many organizations are dedicated to researching and putting in efforts to help these beautiful beings. Read more about their efforts and what you can do to help!
5.Spread the word! Educate yourself and others about the monarch butterfly decline and encourage them to take the steps to protect these delicate species.
With a little bit of help these beautiful, resilient creatures can make a comeback. Let's do everything in our power to help!