A recent U.S. Geological Survey study confirms that the North American migratory Monarch butterfly has declined by more than 80% over the last two decades. There are many factors contributing to this frightening phenomenon, including climate change, disease, pesticides and loss of both winter and summer habitats. Converting marginal cropland, protected areas, utility and right-of-way transportation lands into monarch-friendly habitat would make a profound difference in protecting this iconic butterfly species. According to the report, the effort will require planting some 1.6 billion stems of milkweed! Milkweed is the only plant that provides breeding habitat for monarch young. Because adult monarchs feed on the nectar from a range of flowering plant, the USGS recommends planting other indigenous flowering plants, as well.
The Geological Survey is urging urban and suburban residents to assist in this ambitious goal. Our pollinator garden includes milkweed and an array of native species as we join in the campaign to return the migratory monarch to a sustainable population size.