by Sandi McDonald

Monarch Butterflies Face New Threats

Monarch ButterflyThe monarch butterfly has always been the most popular, recognizable and well known species of its kind. These butterflies bring smiles to people across the United States.

Monarch butterfly numbers have been decreasing at an alarming rate. In 2010, monarch butterflies at their migration destination in the mountains of Mexico occupied about 9.93 acres of habitat. However, that number had dropped drastically to 1.65 acres.  Experts point to three major reasons for this decline:

Changes in Weather and Climate Change-Extreme weather conditions are causing a disturbance in monarch migration.

Midwestern Agriculture-According to researchers, the biggest and most critical factor in the decline is the expansion of cropland and a big increase in the use of genetically modified crops that are resistant to herbicides, which in turn has led to more herbicide use against native plants that compete with crops.

Illegal Deforestation-Over the past several decades, logging in Mexico has destroyed large swaths of the country’s forests, including the few sites where monarchs overwinter. The Mexican government ruled logging illegal several years ago. However, illegal logging is still occurring, leaving monarchs with less and less suitable winter habitat.

 

What can you do to help?

Lucky for monarchs, there are ways you can help. Gardening for wildlife is a great way to help provide food, water, shelter and place to raise young for all types of wildlife.

ButterflyWeed-CaterpillarSEFor monarchs, you can plant native flowering plants, especially milkweed, to help feed the larvae of these beautiful butterflies! Learn how your garden can help the survival of monarchs and other wildlife. This year also get involved in the www.millionpollinatorgardenchallenge.org.  This is a national push for pollinators involvement.

The City of Washington, Washington in Bloom, FC Master Gardeners and the Washington Garden Club will be pushing efforts to not only make awareness for Monarchs BUT ALL pollinators in this year’s programs. Stay tuned to see what they have in store!