Thursday, January 31, 2019

Eastern Monarch Butterfly Population Increases

Monarch Butterfly (Danaus plexippus)


"The yearly count of monarch butterflies overwintering in Mexico, released today, shows an increase of 144 percent from last year’s count and is the highest count since 2006", according to The Center for Biological Diversity. "That’s good news for a species whose numbers had fallen in recent years, but conservationists say the monarch continues to need Endangered Species Act protection", it continues.

"Today’s count of 6.05 hectares of occupied forest is up from 2.48 hectares last winter. The increase is attributable to favorable weather during the spring and summer breeding seasons and during the fall migration. Monarchs have lost an estimated 165 million acres of breeding habitat in the United States to herbicide spraying and development", the report, Eastern Monarch Butterfly Population Rebounds, states.

“This reprieve from bad news on monarchs is a thank-you from the butterflies to all the people who planted native milkweeds and switched to organic corn and soy products,” said Tierra Curry, a senior scientist at the Center.

But let's not be lulled into complacency by the good news. They expect it's only temporary. The crisis must continue, and as Stanford economist Paul Romer said, “A crisis is a terrible thing to waste.” Expanding on the principle, Rahm Emanual noted, "And what I mean by that it's an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before."

So, if you never thought you could let your yard grow up in weeds, you can now. In my recent article, Got Milkweed? Feeding Hungry Monarch Butterflies, I recommended milkweed, in particular. Throw caution to the wind along with milkweed seeds and let them grow!

If you receive a threatening notice from your not-so-friendly HOA or local municipality, assume a more sanctimonious posture, and declare that you are saving the monarchs!

Got thoughts? Share them with us in the comment section.

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Unknown said...

So if I want to plant milkweed, can I just purchase seed and literally throw it into the wind? Or do I need to prepare the soil? I'd love to have more monarchs to watch this year.

GoGardenNow said...

Wind is a primary dispersal vector for milkweed seeds, but "the wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth." So, if you want to be in control of the situation, choose the planting area and prepare it accordingly. The University of Minnesota has published a thorough guide - Finding, Collecting, and Growing Milkweed. I recommend it. Find it here: