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Monarch Butterfly Crisis


The monarch butterfly is a species in crisis!

Its key threats are the loss of milkweed in the USA, use of pesticides, adverse weather conditions, and deforestation.

Each fall, eastern monarchs (east of the Rockies) travel to central Mexico, while western monarchs migrate to the California Coast, where they over-winter before returning for breeding. Learn about the monarchs and their

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2018-2019 migration update: Some good news!

Over-wintering eastern monarchs increased 144% from the previous year occupying 6.05 hectares (15 acres) in Mexico; the highest count in over a decade. The World Wildlife Fund has attributed the increase to pollinator friendly initiatives throughout the migratory path, favorable conditions in Texas, and generally favorable climate conditions during the spring and summer breeding seasons and during the fall migration. As a result, there was increased availability of milkweed and plenty of nectar available during migration.

Over-wintering western monarchs showed a decline of 86% from the previous year. This significant decline may be partly due to severe drought this past year and spring storms last March in California. The fires that decimated parts of California and other western states made matters worse.

How to help. There are many factors out of our control, however, we can help the monarch butterfly by planting native milkweed like butterflyweed (Asclepius tuberosa). Milkweed is the only host plant that monarchs will lay eggs on and the only plant that the caterpillars can eat. We can also help by planting native nectar plants for their adult food source and also avoiding the use of pesticides in our gardens. Bring back the monarchs, they are beautiful in appearance, useful as pollinators, and their innate ability to navigate long distances across the continent is a natural wonder.

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All types of native bees are also in decline. Many of the plants that grow in our environment depend on bees for pollination. They pollinate flowers, fruits, and vegetables and their services provide food for the butterflies. Help preserve our environment . . . learn how to add plants to your garden to attract butterflies and help pollinators. Click here for your Butterfly/Bee Guide to plant preferences.

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