Monarch Butterfly Crisis
I don't know how much any of the posters here know about the state of the Monarch Butterfly, but their population has plummeted in the past three years. Last winter the population in the overwintering forest in Mexico was 1/3 of what it had been the year before, by far the lowest since anyone has been keeping track. They estimate that 60 million butterflies spent the winter that year. So far this winter, only 3 million have returned. This could very well be the end of the miraculous migration of these beautiful creatures.
There is still a chance we can work to bring them back, if gardeners all across the United States make an effort to include native, pollen-producing plants, and especially many milkweed plants, which are the only plant that Monarchs will lay eggs on, and the only plant that the caterpillars can eat. We also need to try to stop use of any pesticides that could be poisonous to any insects.
It's not just the Monarchs that are in trouble. All types of native bees are also declining at frightening rates. 80% of all the plants that grow in our environment depend on bees for pollination. If we lose them, we will lose our world as we know it, and we will not survive. We need to rethink our approach to conserving our fragile environment, and quickly.
Please consider making some adjustments in your gardens that might help the situation. Expand your gardens and shrink your lawns. Consider planting prairie plants where you have sun, which won't require as much watering or mowing. Plant native trees such as oaks, willows, beech, etc. and plant native flowering shrubs that provide nectar for insects and berries for birds and other small creatures. We just need to tip the balance back in the direction of nature. Visit the butterfly forum for more info, or the native plant forums, woodland and prairie forums. We're also adopting newbies to milkweed growing on a thread that can be found on the seed trading forum or linked from the Milkweed forum. I'm counting on each of you to do what you can and speak to others you know and encourage them to do the same.
Have a blessed Thanksgiving,