You may not know that this exquisite Monarch butterfly is now counted among the creatures threatened with extinction. National Wildlife reports that “every year millions of monarch butterflies migrate south, riding air currents for up to 3,000 miles from the Northern United States and Southern Canada to Central Mexico. But late last August thousands of monarchs crossing the Midwest on their epic journey ran into a cloud of the insecticide ’permethrin’ and perished.”
Permethrin and other pyrethroid products are used by mosquito-control companies that spray residential backyards across the country. These pesticides are used to control the mosquito population which are said to be responsible for tropical diseases such as Zika virus, West Nile virus, Chikungunya virus and dengue fever – increasing the risk to humans.
Groups such as Aimee Code of the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation and David Brown, technical advisor for the American Mosquito Control Association offer advice on ways to control mosquito proliferation. Unintentionally or not, disrupting nature’s rhythm with the use of pesticides along with the loss of habitation and vegetation, the monarch could disappear entirely in the next 30 years.
Organizations such as the National Wildlife Federation are committed to ensuring that these majestic insects are not added to the extinction list. In addition, Federation is pushing the Biden administration to make the monarch recovery a national priority after the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recently declared that the Endangered Species Act protections for monarchs are warranted.
“The destruction of natural space for life is the most dramatic issue of our time and the least addressed by our societies” said Pierre Fidenci, founder of Endangered Species International (ESI).
ESI explains the importance of maintaining these species and says, “…such losses are irreversible and may have profound effects ranging from the depletion of Earth’s inspirational and esthetic resources to deterioration of ecosystem function and services.”
The Wild Life Risk organization goes further and says, “Different species are playing different roles in the ecosystem to maintain a balance of the world. When these species suddenly disappear, the roles they were playing come to an end, giving rise to many threats to the natural balance of the planet.”
This is how you can help and turn this situation around. The Federation’s Garden for Wildlife programs promotes “planting with a purpose” which involves installing native pollinator plants where they live, learn, work, play and worship. Monarch butterflies contribute to the health of our planet and pollinate many types of wildflowers, but milkweed is the only host plant for monarch caterpillars, which through metamorphosis produces these beautiful creatures. The larvae or caterpillar stage feeds only on the leaves of milkweed.
Planting milkweed can make a huge difference in the proliferation of the monarch. Giving the monarch a birthing place is more than possible and will fascinate everyone in your family from the young to the not so young. Milkweed can be grown in the ground, planters and window boxes. This makes milkweed available to grow for almost everyone.
With butterfly habitat insect cage kits, you can experience the miracle of metamorphosis first hand. The caterpillars lay their larvae on its leaves, and wow here come the monarchs. A variety of cage kits can be found on Amazon, Etsy, and Ebay. Witness nature at its finest hour!
Free milkweed seeds can be obtained from Save Our Monarchs, a group working to protect the declining species, by sending a self-addressed stamped envelope to: Save Our Monarchs, P.O. Box 390135, Minneapolis, MN 55439 or by visiting SaveOurMonarchs.org.
Let’s help nature – it’s extremely doubtful an app will be developed any time soon to take her place!
Long live the monarch!