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Multiple Ways of Saving Monarchs

One of the most miraculous creatures on earth with incredible beauty is the Monarch butterfly, the “king of the butterflies”. Its winter migration from the North America to Mexico is an iconic natural event that every environmentalist cherishes. It takes these creatures around 4 generations to complete the migration process. The Mexican forests were gracefully covered with these beautiful creatures. It is said that the branches of the fir trees bow lightly due to the weight of innumerable Monarchs hibernating on it.

But, today the scenario has changed. The life of the Monarch is in danger, and they are considered on the verge of extinction. Around 90% of their population has vanished within a period of 2 decades, that means around 1 billion Monarchs are missing. Reasons contributing to their depleting numbers range from the destruction of their milkweed habitat, to illegal logging, and some studies attribute it to the changes in the cycle of weather. Many social and government agencies are working overtime for rehabilitating their lost habitat by introducing diverse initiatives and plans.

Ways to Save Monarch Butterflies

Besides the initiatives of government and private agencies, people at home can also contribute in saving the Monarch butterflies. Some of the ways are-:

Avoid Using Herbicides And Pesticides

How Can We Help Monarchs? Multiple Ways of Saving Monarchs. Airplane Spraying Insecticides

Monarch butterflies lay eggs only on the milkweed plants, which is actually a big reason for their depleting numbers. The Monarch caterpillar only feeds on this plant, hence using pesticides or herbicides can cause damage to these plants. These chemicals include weed-resisting potential, which prevents the growth of milkweed plants. So while planting trees or plants in your garden, avoid using such harmful chemicals to initiate the growth of original habitat for these precious species.

Avoid Using Genetically Engineered Seeds and Foods

How Can We Help Monarchs? Multiple Ways of Saving Monarchs. Models of corn/maize roots at Monsanto's MTU - Photo by: Ryan Griffis

These Roundup Ready Genetically Engineered seeds that are sprayed with high quantity of Glyphosate herbicides give the best yield, and prevent the growth of unwanted weeds in the surrounding. Farmers mainly use this kind of seeds for cultivation that gives them a good profit. This herbicide eradicates the weeds in the surrounding, but at the same time is an anathema (abomination) to the growth of the native milkweed plants.

Plant Native Milkweed

How Can We Help Monarchs? Multiple Ways of Saving Monarchs. Models of corn/maize roots at Monsanto's MTU - Photo by: Ryan Griffis

One of the main reasons for the decrease in Monarch’s population is the termination of the native milkweed plants. Hence, plant as many milkweeds as possible to give them an original habitat for laying eggs. But care should be taken to plant native milkweeds, because the commonly found tropical milkweeds can cause more damage to these creatures than offer help. The tropical plants never die, thereby providing a habitat even during the winter season. When the butterflies get a habitat in their own habitat even in winter, they do not bother to migrate away to a new habitat. This causes a decline in the natural process of migration. Other than that, the yearlong growing milkweeds are dangerous, because a type of parasite grows on them. When the caterpillars feed on them, they also consume the parasites on the leaves that lead to infection. When it enters into the pupa stage, its body is filled with infected spores, and ultimately it becomes weak and fragile compared to their healthy counterparts. Even if you wish to cultivate tropical milkweeds, regularly prune it to cultivate fresh leaves. You can also purchase seeds of native milkweeds from online sites.

Monarch Way Station

How Can We Help Monarchs? Multiple Ways of Saving Monarchs. Swamp Milkweed - Photo by: Fritz Flohr Reynolds.

Develop a way station for these creatures that will provide them a habitat for thriving. Way stations consist of host plants to lay eggs, as well as the nectar plants for the adult butterflies to feed on. Way stations should be created in a sunny location, and should be covered with attractive and colorful flowers to attract the Monarch butterflies. When they acquire a destination full of host and nectar plants, they will start to breed and thereby develop a batch of healthy Monarch butterflies.

Save Grasslands

How Can We Help Monarchs? Multiple Ways of Saving Monarchs. Corn Field.

Decades before, the American grasslands were covered with dense milkweed plants as well as other nectar plants. Thus, it was a perfect ecosystem for the Monarch butterflies. But now, more than 90% of these native grasslands have been converted into Corn or Soya bean fields and others for the development of shopping malls, skyscrapers and the like. So, the disappearing grasslands are also a main reason for the decrease in Monarch population. We must try to save these grasslands or bring new lands under cultivation of milkweeds and nectar plants to provide the same habitat for these creatures.

Habitat Corridor

How Can We Help Monarchs? Multiple Ways of Saving Monarchs. Hoverfly Feeding on Nectar Plant - Photo by: Si Griffiths

National Wildlife Federation and United States Fish and Wildlife Service are collectively working to bring the highway transportation organization and agricultural leaders together to build a corridor along the highway from where the Monarchs migrate to Mexico and other breeding grounds. This corridor is slated to be planted with nectar and milkweed plants to attract the Monarchs.

Campaigns For Climate Change

Join the campaigns and fight against the climate change. Many environmental activists are initiating various programs to educate people regarding the climate change. It is considered as one of the prime reasons for the decreasing number of Monarch population. Till summer season, these creatures stay in their own habitat, and during the winter, they migrate to the other warmer regions. But these days, the climate changes follow an unpredictable pattern that leads to confusion among these butterflies, leading to a lack of migration. The whole process affects the reproduction of Monarch butterflies.

FSC Certified Wood

How Can We Help Monarchs? Multiple Ways of Saving Monarchs. Wood Fibre Product Certified with Forest Stewardship Council

The winter habitat of Monarch butterflies is the dense forest of Mexico, but the illegal logging has led to the reduction of trees on acres of land. Large scale logging is carried out by the big companies and small-scale logging is carried out by the local people for timber and firewood. This deforestation has decreased the number of trees used by the Monarch butterflies for hibernating. Hence, to stop this cruelty, use only FSC certified wood for any purpose. This certification is an assurance of the trusted source of the wood. By making such small decisions, you can completely eradicate the illegal logging and thereby save the habitat for the Monarchs.

Learn More

Many organizations and agencies working for the rehabilitation of the Monarch butterfly,  like the ‘Monarch Watch’ or the ‘Save Our Monarch’ keep on researching and developing new ideas for the overall development of Monarch butterflies. You can try to learn and follow the ideas and suggestions provided by the experts of such organizations.

Spread Knowledge Regarding Monarch and Its Plight

Individual people or collective groups should try to teach and spread the relevant data regarding the plight of these endangered species. This will encourage the others to take the initiative in developing more habitats for these creatures and to take the other necessary steps. If a majority of the people indulges in creating a proper habitat by growing native milkweed in the roadside, open areas, forest, gardens and field, the current population can be increased manifold within a few years, and the name of Monarch can be removed from the list of endangered species.

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