PicturePhoto by D. Pauze (www.terralovers.com)
Monarch butterflies are so beautiful.  How can you not look at these wonderful little guys/gals and not feel an overwhelming sense of awe?  They flutter around and bring feelings of goodness to butterfly lovers everywhere.  But I have some bad news, they're numbers are decreasing at an alarming rate because of the fact that the one plant they thrive on (milkweed) is vanishing due to loss of habitat (Center for Food Safety).

Monarch butterflies migrate astonishing miles to get out of the cold weather. When we think of migration, we often think a couple hundred miles, especially for insects, but the Monarch flies over 2500 miles in some cases to escape the cold (Monarch Butterfly Website).

Since the rise of agricultural industrialization and the resulting natural habitat loses, the Monarch butterfly migration numbers have been declining (Center for Food Safety).  While the number of Monarch butterflies migrating south has been overall declining since  1996-97, the trend since 2008 has been a steady decline and the number of migrating Monarch's as of last year is at an all time low (Center for Food Safety).  

PicturePhoto by D. Pauze (www.terralovers.com)
Monarch butterflies lay their eggs on Milkweed.  But since agricultural industrialization has resulted in a decline of wild growing Milkweed, it stands to reason that if we start adding this weed to our gardens, we can create way stations for the Monarch during it's life/travel (Spector, 2013).   Planting milkweed in your gardens will help these guys by adding back some of the habitat they are losing (Live Monarch).  It's pretty simple, we are moving in and taking away their homes & habitats.  So instead of making it worse by not doing anything, we can help by simply adding certain plants to our gardens and landscapes that attract these beautiful guys/gals, starting with milkweed.  Live Monarch will provide you with seeds for the price of shipping, but if they only have the southern plant, you can find a great list of other providers at Monarch Watch.  

PictureI helped this little guy out.
Monarchs are not the only butterflies that would benefit by the planting of milkweed, and milkweed is not the only plant you can add to your gardens to attract butterflies, but it is their primary food source and they do lay their eggs on it (World Wildlife Fund).  

The fate of flutter butters is unknown, but we can help bring back places to provide them safe harbor.  Don't delay, plant milkweed & add butterfly gardens to your landscape.  You will be grateful, especially when you get to witness them in all their splendor during their mating and feeding seasons.  Remember you can get free milkweed plants here: Live Monarch & get a list of other places that provide them here: Monarch Watch.  And if you want to take part in putting together awesome butterfly gardens, all you have to do is plant, with love.  Take matters into your own hands, don't let their numbers continue to dwindle while doing nothing. Just plant a plant, or thirty.  

Some varieties of milkweed are deer & rabbit resistant.  

http://www.butterflybushes.com/milkweed.htm

http://www.definingyourhome.blogspot.com/search/label/Monarch%20Butterflies


Additional comments &  resources welcome.  

Inspiration/References

Alicia Graef.  2013. Monarch Butterflies Are Vanishing: Here’s How You Can Help From Your Own Home.  1 Feb 2014. 
http://www.care2.com/causes/monarch-butterflies-are-vanishing-heres-how-you-can-help-from-your-own-home.html

Center for Food Safety.  2014. New Report Shows Monsanto A Major Culprit in Record Decline of Monarch Butterflies.  1 Feb 2014.  http://ecowatch.com/2014/01/30/monsanto-culprit-record-decline-monarch-butterflies/

Kaye Spector. 2013. How You Can Help Prevent Decline of Monarch Butterflies Due to Roundup-Ready Genetically Engineered Crops.  1 Feb 2014. http://ecowatch.com/2013/10/30/home-gardeners-can-take-simple-steps-protect-monarch-butterflies/

Live Monarch. 2013. 1 Feb 2014.  http://www.livemonarch.com/free-milkweed-seeds.htm

 Monarch Butterfly Website. n.d.Web. 1 Feb 2014. http://www.monarch-butterfly.com/monarch-butterflies-facts.html

Monarch Watch.  n.d. Bring back the Monarchs. 1 Feb 2014. http://monarchwatch.org/bring-back-the-monarchs/resources/plant-seed-suppliers

World Wildlife Fund.  2014. Monarch population hits lowest points in more than 20 years.  1 Feb 2014. http://worldwildlife.org/stories/monarch-population-hits-lowest-point-in-more-than-20-years