This month( August) The National Geographic Magazine has a page story about monarch butterflies, and I urge you to read it.
According to Conservationist Dan Ashe, the monarch population has diminished severely over the past 20 years. In the 90's there were a billion monarchs migrating between Mexico and Nova Scotia each year. Today there are less than 50 million!
The problem is loss of habitat!
The Monarchs only lay their eggs on the milkweed plant Asclepius, of which there 5 species that grow in our area. The catapiller and chrysalis stages take place entirely on this plant, durring which time they ingest the toxin in the milkweed sap that will make Monarch butterflies mildly poisonous to deter predators.
Due to the wide scale use of herbicides in agriculture and land development, milkweed had been almost wiped out. And with it, the majestic orange and brown butterflies!
But Ashe says there may be hope. By planting Asclepius in our gardens and yards, we can help to restore and revitalize the monarch population. Its a chance to act locally (back yard local) and help globally. And by providing a valuable habitat for these winged beauties, we get the added pleasure of their arrival each summer, and their graceful presence in our garden!
See our wbsite www.pgardeners.com to learn more about planting beautiful milkweed and other flowers that attract butterflies and hummingbirds to your home.