Help save the Monarch

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

As the Monarch butterfly continues to suffer habitat destruction along its migratory route, the winter 2017-18 census saw yet another decline

 With less than 10 percent of their historic numbers remaining, they are at extreme risk of extinction. Migration is rare in the insect world, making monarchs truly unique. Every autumn, adult Monarchs hatched in northern states fly 2,500 miles along migration corridors to wintering grounds in Florida, Mexico and southern California. In spring, these same Monarchs fly north a few hundred miles, breed, lay eggs on milkweed, then die.

Their larvae feed, pupate and emerge as adults to continue the journey, taking four generations to reach summer ground. Since milkweed is considered a weed poisonous to livestock, farmers using herbicides have eradicated it from their fields. Monarch larva feed only on milkweed. No milkweed, no Monarchs. The survival of the Monarch is in the hands of people all along their migratory route. If you have friends or family in any state in the U.S., urge them to plant milkweed. Support the creation of mow-free areas of milkweed along highways and public land. Our actions in the next few years will determine the survival of this critically declining species.

Devote a section of your yard to species of milkweed for larvae (Asclepias tuberosa, A. syriaca and A. incarnata) as well as nectar plants for adults such as Indian Blanket (Gaillardia pulchella), Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea), Joe Pye (Eupatorium purpureum), Scarlet Sage (Salvia coccinea), Mexican Sunflower (Tithonia sp.) and Zinnia (Z. elegans).

Refrain from using herbicides/pesticides in your yard. For information, go to www.monarchwatch.org. They offer ‘Monarch Waystation’ kits that consist of seed packets along with planting and care instructions. The need is urgent; I implore you to take action now before this marvelous species vanishes from the earth forever. 

Liz Pichette