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Wintering Monarchs

A Monarch Butterfly feeding on Swamp Milkweed.

A Monarch Butterfly feeding on Swamp Milkweed. 

You can save the world for monarch butterflies in your yard. Monarch numbers are down.

Follow through on a New Year’s Resolution to save the world for Monarchs. Make sure milkweeds grow in your garden or on disturbed ground. Saving the world is within our grasp if we are responsible Earth stewards. Actions in our yards can make a difference for good. Grow milkweeds for the love of wildlife and beauty in your yard, as a religious mandate for creation stewardship, or to protect your own survival by keeping fellow inhabitants of Earth present that provide essential contributions to nature niches.

The following information is based on a New York Times article passed along by colleagues Barb Bloetscher and further massaged by Dave Horn.

Numbers of over wintering monarch butterflies are at record low numbers this year in Mexico. Last year’s estimate of 60 million was already a record low, and fewer than three million have appeared so far this fall (20 times fewer). Some fear that the spectacular monarch migration might be a thing of the past.

The decline is real, although the cause or causes are not obvious. Recently, scientists have focused on loss of native vegetation, especially in and around agricultural fields in mid America. As the price of corn has soared recently, farmers have expanded fields by plowing every available piece of land that can grow corn. Millions of acres once in conservation reserve are now plowed, and more and more herbicide is used in crop production. That has led to loss of many nectar sources plus uncounted acres of milkweed, the food for monarch caterpillars. It is estimated that Iowa has lost 60 to 90 percent of its milkweed. Roads, malls and sterile lawns have also contributed to the loss of food for monarch larvae and adults, along with those of other butterflies.

So what to do? Anyone with a yard or garden can increase biological diversity with a variety of wild and cultivated plants including milkweed. For additional ideas, log onto the Monarch Watch website: http://www.monarchwatch.org/

An additional note that I mentioned in a previous Nature Niche article is that genetically modified corn and soybeans have made crops resistant to herbicides. Plants necessary for wildlife cannot survive the increased herbicide use. Monarchs have lost most food sources between Mexico and Michigan. Our yards are essential habitat and each of us is essential in the effort to maintain healthy biodiversity. Our cities and our rural yards are the new Ark for Monarchs, Earth, and us.

Natural history questions or topic suggestions can be directed to Ranger Steve (Mueller) at odybrook@chartermi.net Ody Brook, 13010 Northland Dr, Cedar Springs, MI 49319-8433.


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4 Responses to “Wintering Monarchs”

  1. Paul Cherubini says:

    Whole article is a product sales solicitation in disguise because it directs the public is directed to visit http://www.monarchwatch.org/ where they will find these butterfly gardening products for sale:1) a flat of native milkweed seedlings: ($58.00)
    2) a packet of native milkweed seeds: ($16.00) 3) a Waystation certification application and sign ($33.00) 4) a tagging kit ($18.00) 5) a caterpillar rearing kit ($18.00) 6) monarch books, posters, T-shirts and similar items. 7) a $55.00 online course about creating waystations: http://tinyurl.com/ormsyzs

  2. KC Clark says:

    Monarch butterflies are a business for more and more people these days. Don’t let a crisis go to waste.

    Monarch Watch can use the $.

  3. Monarch Watch is the foremost advocate for the survival of monarchs. It depends on donations and sales to do its work on a shoestring budget. Its integrity is impeccable, and it would not exist but for its many tireless volunteers.

  4. Paul Cherubini says:

    Carol Pasternak, in the 1990’s the monarch advocacy efforts were directed at planting trees at the overwintering sites in Mexico. Hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations were raised to grow and plant millions of trees and to pay the people who administered the programs. Yet here we are in 2014 and the monarch advocacy groups still have not posted photos of those mass plantings or of large numbers of monarchs benefitting from them. Same thing is happening now in regards to the milkweed planting advocacy effort; i.e. the groups are not posting photos and videos documenting large plantings in wildscapes or of large numbers of monarchs benefitting from the plantings.




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