On the brink of becoming an endangered species, the monarch butterfly needs its kingdom restored for it to live, flourish and thrive as it has for many decades. However, changes within the lands among the years, stronger pesticides and de-foresting has brought the species to a worrying low.
Though one of the most widely known butterflies in North America, the monarch is on a downward path to disappearing completely and multiple authorities and organizations are calling for people’s help to prevent it. And it might just be achievable if actions are taken before it’s too late.
Ecology professor from University of Kansas, Orley Taylor, suggests that building “way stations” or habitats of milkweeds in non-cropped areas might be one way to prevent the monarch butterfly from reaching extinction.
Milkweed is the only known food source material for the endangered insect, which is completely dependent on its existence from egg to adulthood. It’s both a home for freshly laid eggs and a food source for caterpillars before they spring into the beautiful, commonly known butterfly known as the monarch.
Once well populating short-grassed areas and cornfields, the plant that is so vital to their life has seen a severe cut due to the enhanced potency of pesticides that has efficiently deemed natural habitats as vanished. The amounted size of the destroyed habitats is reportedly equal to Texas.
Out of the one billion monarchs that migrated each year from the northern parts of the United States and Canada to the warmer forests of Mexico and California, only 56.5 million of the species remain today. The 81% decline since the 1990s has been attributed to the destruction of their natural habitats, growth in the lumbering industry and climate change, though the later may be of less fault.
However, with the use of the government and population alike, the monarch can be saved if proper efforts are put to work. So far, there are over 10,000 “way stations” with planted milkweed to provide homes and food sources for the butterflies. Unfortunately, it’s not even close to the necessary number, estimated at around 10 million more.
The process is not simple, but it can be achievable. Milkweed is a common plant, whose seeds can be found at most specialized stores in North America. The problem likely began from the fact that it was previously seen as a noxious weed, so the population should keep in mind not to plant it near crops.
Without milkweed, we will no longer see the monarch butterfly take flight again and while it might not seem like the end of the world, it could be countered that there is no point in any efforts anymore if we won’t make the easy attempt of saving a species that can actually be saved.
Image source: popularresistance.org