Thursday, March 22, 2012

If You Build It, They Will Come: Help Save Monarchs.

Photo by Amanda C. Sandos
Several years ago, I made a trip to Michoacan, Mexico specifically to see the Monarch Butterflies in their wintering grounds. Got2BeGreen published my article about that adventure, if you want to read all about it. Speaking from experience, the monarch migration is one of nature's most spectacular phenomenons. There are only a hand full of specific areas within the same state of Mexico where all the world's monarchs return in order to survive the winter and complete their breeding cycle.

Photo by Amanda C. Sandos

After standing literally in A World of Butterflies, I find the reports of the monarch's decline particularly disturbing. Of course, part of the problem has to do with protection of their habitat in Mexico. Researchers like Dr. Lincoln Brower of Sweet Briar College, and many others at numerous organizations continue working to protect their habitat south of the border. But, the problem is not just in Mexico, so saving the pine forests there is not going to be enough. Not by a long shot. It's easy to look at the situation and point a finger at people elsewhere. It's easy to think there is nothing you can do. But, neither of these things are true. There is something you can do and it's not difficult, or expensive at all.

Photo by Amanda C. Sandos
Current research by Craig Wilson of Texas A&M suggests monarch numbers will decline by 30% this year. That's even more frightening when you look at the trend over the last few years. Last year, the numbers declined by 25%. And one of the biggest causes of this decline is happening right in your back yard along with the decline of an estimated 100 million acres of their food and host plant supply. Milkweed and wildflowers are what monarchs need to survive. But, with the rise of herbicide use and mowing, not to mention the conversion of dormant land to herbicide resistant soybean and corn crops, monarchs are  running out of food and host plants.

Photo by Amanda C. Sandos
So, please, this year, won't you do something easy to help save monarchs. It really doesn't take much on your part. All you have to do is plant milkweed, one of the most important plants to monarchs, on your property and make sure it is clearly marked so it doesn't get mowed or sprayed. You can even add a wildflower patch around it, if you want more color. Neither takes a large amount of your money or your time. All you need are a few packs of seed, a sunny spot in your yard, and a little bit of water now and then if it doesn't rain. Then, you can sit back and enjoy watching the monarchs and numerous beautiful butterflies and moths. I promise, if you build it, they will come.


Andi Lea said...

I never weed out the wildflowers! I am so glad you are telling others to create spaces for the butterflies and moths.

Zooleft said...

Thanks Andi. Thank you for always reading and commenting, too. It means a lot!! :D

chillie falls said...

Nice post. I tried to give you a little extra pop.