Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Monarch Butterflies in Crisis

The Monarch Butterfly needs your help!


Monarchs need your help NOW! This year AGAIN marks the lowest number of over wintering Monarchs in the Mexican mountains in the last 20 years...and we have only known about their over wintering sites for a little more than 20 years!. There are 97% fewer than at their recorded height and 50% less than there were last year. This is a back to back 50% decline in their overwintering numbers. Researchers are worried we may lose a large part of their migration this year if immediate action is not taken and severely threaten all Monarchs if the pattern continues.
This is a crisis situation! In 1991, over 75% of the wintering Monarchs from North America froze to death in Mexico as a result of three days of rain and sub-freezing conditions. Their numbers showed some recovery but now there is a nationwide shortage of milkweed. Freak weather patterns destroy habitat and kill millions of helpless Monarchs. But these natural events are not the only challenges that face the Monarch. Pesticide application and genetically modified crops cover important parts of the Monarch's migratory path and serve as killing fields for any Monarch that pass through these millions of acres of toxins and biological agents that kill them and their young. They are unintended casualties in a war to protect crops. Are our Monarchs worth our efforts to protect? Do we even know the total effects on our environment from the use of these agents? The Monarch habitat must be protected now to ensure their survival, before we see the day when this miracle of nature is only a memory. The Monarchs need your help NOW. Please plant seeds and ensure their survival. A Milkweed in every yard!

What is killing the Monarch Butterflies?

This slide was from my recent presentation “Wildlife Around the World – Wildlife in Peril” where I summarized so many dangers facing today’s wildlife.
The causes for the decline of monarchs can be summarized briefly in below’s slide.  The role of the nicotinoid pesticides in the decline of butterflies has been scientifically established, and its effecting not only the monarchs but also bees and other pollinators in an alarming rate. 

So how does the lowly milkweed help the Monarch Butterflies?

When an adult Monarch is ready to lay her eggs, she only selects milkweed to deposits one egg on each plant.  This insures that the evolving larvae will have enough leaves to feed on and to thrive before the metamorphosis from larvae to a beautiful butterfly.

How can you help?

Plant a milkweed today and change your backyard into a monarch friendly environment.
Plant native plants that attract not only butterflies but also bees and other pollinators, e.g. lavender.

If you can’t find milkweed in your nursery, please ask for an order of milkweed or contact www.livemonarch.com and order your milkweeds online.

In California and the West coast, the following milkweed species will thrive:

Asclepias curassavica

Asclepias-curassavica - This is hands down the favorite egg laying and food plant of Monarchs. This is the only type we offer as pregrown plants. fast growing produces as much as 1,000 seeds per plant to save and share. Use as a backup resource

Asclepias-speciosa - A beautiful plant up to 4' tall with large thick leaves that feed many Monarchs. Will survive winters and a prolific seed producer. The seed we supply are ready to plant no special "stratification" necessary. <14 day="" germination.="" span="">

I wish you many beautiful monarch butterflies in your lovely garden,
And thank you for helping nature!

Til next time,