Thursday, March 29, 2012

Monarchs Need Milkweed

Monarch butterflies population is down again this year as decline continues, says Texas A&M expert. Plant more milkweeds…good for Monarchs, good for Bees.

Craig Wilson, a senior research associate in the Center for Mathematics and Science Education and a long-time butterfly enthusiast, says reports by the World Wildlife Fund, private donors and Mexico's Michoacan state show that Monarch numbers will be down almost 30 percent in 2012 as they make their annual trek from their breeding grounds in Mexico and move across Texas.

"Last year's severe drought and fires in the region no doubt played a part, resulting in less nectar for the Monarchs as they migrated south. But estimates show that each year, millions of acres of land are being lost that would support Monarchs, either by farmers converting dormant land for crop use – mainly to herbicide tolerant corn and soybeans – or the overuse of herbicides and mowing. Milkweed is the key plant because it's the only plant where the female will lay her eggs."  "Chip Taylor, who is the director of Monarch Watch at the University of Kansas, estimates that 100 million acres of land have already been lost that previously supported Monarchs," Wilson notes. This year, according to the Texas Monarch Watch, Monarchs covered about 7.14 acres of forest in their Mexican breeding grounds compared to 9.9 acres last year, and it shows a continued long-term downward trend in Monarch population since official surveys began in 1994.

Wilson says there has to be a national effort to save Monarchs or their declining numbers will reach the critical stage.
I'm sure alot of people are unconcerned about Monarch butterflies but not only are they beautiful, they are pollinators although not as good as bees, so they are important to our natural systems. Lots of 'someones' have to care to make sure these wonderful and useful creatures don't disappear. The least one person can do is plant a milkweed. I love mine which are Red Prairie Milkweed pictured above.  I think they are just beautiful, and they definitely attract Monarchs. To find a milkweed for your area and seeds along with other valuable information, check out:

Monarchs hanging on our trees at night
 Do you remember my post last fall where we had Monarchs hanging on our trees? They were here for a rest stopover on their migration to Mexico. After experiencing the magic of hundreds of Monarchs hanging on our trees and grazing on our milkweeds, planted and wild, I am motivated to plant more this year.

That's what we can all do, one garden or garden pot, at a time!


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