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Monarch Butterfly Crisis

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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 migration.


2020-2021 migration update: Over-wintering eastern monarchs occupied a total area of 2.10 hectares (5.2 acres), a 26% decrease from the previous season of 2.83 hectares (7 acres). The number of western monarchs wintering along the California coast has plummeted precipitously to a record low, putting insects closer to extinction. Scientists say the butterflies are at critically low levels in western states because of destruction to their milkweed habitat along their migratory route as housing expands into their territory, the use of pesticides and herbicides increases, and climate changes.

Click on images to enlarge

Currently, monarchs lack state and federal legal protection to keep their habitat from being destroyed or degraded. Federal officials have declared the monarch "a candidate" for threatened or endangered status but no action will be taken for several years because of the many other species awaiting that designation.
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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