The Iconic Monarch Butterfly
The monarch butterfly is one of the most beloved and widely recognized butterflies in the world. Its vivid orange and black wings make it easy to recognize. The monarch butterfly and its beauty have come to represent butterflies and conservation issues everywhere.
What Makes Monarch Butterflies Unique?
Monarch butterflies migrate over 2,500 miles in search of warmer climates to over-winter. However, not every single monarch butterfly does this. Only the last generation of monarchs born in a year will be the ones to make the round trip migration. This is multi-generational migration is a unique occurrence among the insect world.
The Monarch Butterfly Is In Danger
Human activities have had a dramatic and negative impact on the monarch butterfly. Populations are under pressure. Activities such as logging at wintering sites, destruction of milkweed habitat, and use of herbicides and pesticides are threatening monarch butterflies. However, there is hope. Here are some things citizens can do to give the monarch butterflies a helping hand.
What Can We Do To Help?
- Plant Nectar Plants: By planting butterfly friendly plants, such as purple coneflower, buddleia, lantana, and zinnias, you can provide adult monarch butterflies with a place to feed. This link has a list of monarch friendly plants.
- Plant Milkweed Host Plants: The caterpillar of the monarch butterfly only eats milkweed. Milkweed is often considered a pest plant by humans and is destroyed. When the milkweed is gone, there is no food for the next generation of monarchs. By planing milkweed for monarch caterpillars in a small corner of the yard, you can help the monarch butterfly lifecycle stay intact. Milkweed seeds can be ordered here and here.
- Grow Herbicide and Pesticide Free Gardens: Herbicides and pesticides can have a dramatic and negative impact on monarchs and their host plants. By adopting gardening practices that avoid the use of herbicides and pesticides, you’ll give monarch butterflies a safe haven to feed and reproduce.
Take Action, Help Monarchs!
In addition to taking action in your garden, you can help monarchs by spreading the word about the challenges they face. Tell your family and friends the interesting facts you have learned about the monarch, and what you are doing to help. In addition, there are many great monarch butterfly conservation groups, such as MonarchWatch.org and Learner.org, you can become involved in that will help support the monarch at the community level. We hope you will join the effort to help this beautiful and iconic butterfly survive for many generations to come!