Monarch Butterflies take part in a natural phenomenon each year in which they travel from Canada to Mexico and back. The number of migrating monarchs has dwindled in recent years due to a widespread drop in numbers of a plant known as milkweed, that the larvae of the monarch butterfly relies on for the very first and most important meal of their lives. While the actual number of monarch butterflies hasn’t dropped to the point of them being endangered, the migration process has been becoming increasingly less common. Each fall, millions of monarch butterflies head south and west from southern Canada and the United States and stop at various places during their journey in order to eat and to reproduce. This goes on for several generations.
Why It’s An Important Issue
Why is this important? You might ask yourself, if the monarch isn’t “endangered”, why do I care? The answer is somewhat complex and indirect. The decrease in migration can and will lead to disruption of many ecosystems along the way, mainly because monarchs are a major plant pollinator including some of the most important food crops for human kind such as corn. Amazingly, it takes several generations of butterflies to make the long journey. In order for them to fly from Canada to Mexico, the adult monarchs need to lay their eggs on this one specific plant which is milkweed. Upon hatching, the baby monarch butterfly larvae eat the milkweed leaves for their first meal. This helps them to begin the growth transformation into an adult butterfly.
There are many factors that have gone into the reasons why there are less and less milkweed around, but the biggest is likely de-forestation and urbanization. Due to popular social media sites, such as Pinterest and Facebook, people are now becoming more aware that not only is there an issue, but also of what they can do to aid the monarch butterfly migration and they are planting milkweed and other butterfly friendly plants such as Liatris, Asclepias (butterfly weed), and butterfly bush.
So, if you are someone who doesn’t want to see the migrating monarch butterfly come to an end, you can do your part by planting milkweed and other butterfly friendly plants. Not only is it important so that you can enjoy their beauty, our eco-system depends on it.