It's time for the butterfly's annual migration south, but it comes at a trouble time for this majestic insect.
The massive annual migration of Monarch Butterflies from Canada and the United States to parts south has just gotten underway, but scientists are worried about the future of this incrediblespecies.
Monarchs typically leave their breeding range around this time of year to head for their wintering grounds of California in the west or the Sierra Madre Mountains in Mexico in the east. There the Monarchs will roost in trees thousands of feet above sea level, clumping together for warmth as they attempt to outlast the winter and then return to their breeding grounds. But all is not well for this creature, and fortunately there’s something you can do to help.
The Monarch Butterfly is seeing its migration numbers plummeting, and it’s because of farming that the milkweed — a plant the Monarch Butterfly depends on to survive — is disappearing, according to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.
That’s why many concerned groups are banding together to sow milkweed seeds, hunting for them during the fall months and then distributing them to help Monarchs find a place to lay their eggs. Not only does the larvae make their home here, they eat the milkweed plant in order to grow into adults. It’s the only plant the Monarchs eat.
Why are milkweed plants disappearing? It’s because farmers are using crops that are resistant to herbicides, and then dropped these herbicides on their fields in order to eliminate unwanted plants. Unfortunately, this includes the milkweed, which doesn’t have any such genetic protection to the herbicides. Also, urban sprawl and development have cut down on the Monarchs’ habitat.
When it comes to planting milkweeds, every little bit helps. Just be careful when handling milkweed plants, as the sap can cause injury to the eyes.