A lot of people have been talking about the low numbers of the monarchs which caught the attention of the White House. As a result, a federal plan was developed to try to help the monarchs. This is a plan to plant a billion milkweed seeds for monarch butterflies in the corridor traveled by these butterflies from Wisconsin through Texas. This plan will also help other pollinators like our native bees and honey bees too. This is pretty neat to be building a big butterfly highway! Click on "Read More" below to continue.
Dr. Oberhauser has said that we need milkweed everywhere! They can be in people’s yards along, roadsides, and in public and private land. Milkweed is the only plant that the monarch caterpillars recognizes as food to eat. There are 112 native milkweed species throughout North America.
There have been times in the past that the monarch population has been low, but not as low as the population is now and they have rebounded. The monarch female can lay up to 500 eggs in the wild in her lifetime! Dr. Oberhauser believes if we provide the habitat over a large area for the monarchs and if we have weather conducive to monarchs, then we can bring the population back to maybe what it was a decade ago.
You might be wondering why the monarch population has declined. The main reason is habitat loss. The big thing that changed over the last 15 years is a lot of common milkweed was planted between row crops: mostly corn and soybean. The corn belt used to be a tall grass prairie which was important for monarchs. However, on GMO farms, herbicides were sprayed on plants after they came up, and we lost the milkweed on these lands. Dr. Oberhausen is working with the farmers and seed producers to try to solve this problem.
What you can do to help monarchs:
1. Plant as many milkweed plants as you can.
2. Work with nature centers or schools to create habitat for monarchs.
3. Educate others about monarchs. One thing is to educate people that are mowing the roadsides to not mow when eggs and caterpillars are on the milkweed plants.
4. Join a citizens' project such as tracking migration and the number of adults we are seeing.
The goal of this plan is to increase the population to 225 million in 5 years. If you want more information, go to monarchjointadventrue.org and select the tab for helping monarchs.
Hopefully, if we all work together we can bring back the monarchs! Start planting! #monarchs