Let's create an environment where Monarchs flourish
The number of Monarch butterflies in North America is devastatingly low. However, if we work together, we can create a better environment for Monarchs to flourish in our communities.
Over the last two decades, the monarch population in North America has declined by almost ninety percent. During the 2018 annual Western Monarch Thanksgiving Count, less than 30,000 monarchs were reported— an all-time low.
The United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) reviewed data collected on monarchs to determine if they should be protected under the Endangered Species Act. In December 2021, it was concluded that monarchs were indeed imperiled and their decline significant. However, there were too many other species that needed greater help at the time, so monarch butterflies were listed as “Warranted but Precluded.”
Now more than ever, the Monarchs need our help.
Why are we losing Monarchs?
Loss of breeding habitat: Monarchs rely on a specific type of plant to lay their eggs called milkweed (genus: Asclepias). Milkweeds grow well in wet areas and were once commonly found growing among crops on agricultural lands. However, the farming industry now manages their land differently, forcing ‘weeds’ like milkweed to relocate into wilder areas.
Loss of overwintering habitat: The monarchs’ overwintering habitat in Mexico is disappearing. This is due to illegal logging, land conversion for agriculture, and the diversion of water for human use. Similarly, the monarchs’ habitat in California is also being threatened. Municipal and commercial expansion pose a great risk to Monarch populations around the world.
Pesticides: An increased use of herbicides and insecticides across agricultural margins, roadsides, and on private land has eradicated milkweed from both urban and rural areas. Insecticides also have a negative effect on monarchs and other butterflies. In fact, they are usually lethal.
What can we do?
Plant native plants in your garden- especially milkweeds! By planting native wildflowers, you help to supply adult monarchs and other pollinators with sources of nectar.
Avoid using pesticides in your garden: Using chemicals designed to keep insects away from your plants will poison and kill monarch butterflies.
Use FSC certified sustainable wood to protect overwintering habitat from illegal logging practices.