We are in danger of losing a great natural wonder that is the Monarch Butterfly. In the past years there has been a sharp decrease in the number of Monarchs participating in one of the world’s great migrations. The Monarch flies south to Mexico in the cold months of the year to hibernate. They once covered nearly 50 acres and now covering less than five. We find ourselves in this predicament because of the eradication of Milkweed. This is the ONLY food that the caterpillar monarch will eat and is where the adults lay eggs. No Milkweed, no Monarch. This weed is toxic if eaten by humans and spreads fast, most commonly affecting hungry livestock, though this is not a risk in most backyards. I have a small child and thus have more risk, I simply tie red plastic ribbon around plants that she should not touch. This includes things that have spines or are not yet established or are poisonous. Now the second issue: this weed, like all weeds, has evolved to spread seeds in a beautifully efficient way. However I don’t want seeds all over my yard, I simply cut the pods before they burst. It is also a good idea to check any poisonous plants you have in your yard regularly to ensure there are no unwanted visitors, like the neighbor’s pet or child. You can start milkweed from seed or pick up a plant at a trusted nursery, making sure it has never been treated for bugs. If you’re a bit more motivated: you can also order monarch caterpillars and place them on your well established plants. Butterfly rearing and releasing can be done in a variety of ways but all are fairly simple. This is likely to create a breeding place for a new group of monarchs bringing constructive pollinators to your back yard. There is no reason for us to lose this natural wonder.
Help save the Monarch butterfly by taking these steps: Plant some milkweed in a corner of your yard, order some caterpillars and dump them on your established plants. Save an endangered species!