It isn’t good news for monarchs. Monarch butterflies migrate from Canada and the United States to spend their winter in Mexico. The number of monarch butterflies that made it to Mexico this year is down 59 per cent, the lowest level since record keeping began 20 years ago. There is now only an estimated one-fifteenth as many monarch butterflies compared to 1997.

There are several thoughts as to what is causing this decline.

  • The widespread use of herbicides which kills milkweed. Milkweeds are extremely important for monarchs – the caterpillars only feed on milkweed leaves
  • Invasive species such as dog strangling vine – while some females will lay their eggs on this vine (a cousin of milkweed), the caterpillars die because it’s not their food source
  • Climate change
  • Logging and water availability in Mexico

But this is one situation where we can all help, regardless of the size of your property.  You can:

  • Plant milkweed – most common are common milkweed, swamp milkweed and butterfly weed
  • Avoid the use of pesticides
  • Create basking spots for butterflies by placing a few flat stones in sunny, sheltered locations
  • Satisfy the thirst of butterflies on hot summer days by supplying water in a shallow dish or bird-bath with half-submerged stones as perches.

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