Monarchs and Milkweeds

Monarch caterpillar on milkweed

Monarch populations dangerously close to disappearing from the earth.  The winter of 2013/2014 saw their wintering grounds in Mexico shrink from a high of 30 acres covered in monarchs to approx 3 acres.  And they were late arriving.  We are late in understanding the importance of saving a flagship pollinator species like the monarch.  Two words lead us toward their demise and perhaps the demise of much of the pollinator world.  Corn, Soybeans.  We could easily have chosen another two words:  federal subsidies.  The USA’s Midwest corridor, vital to monarch migration, has been cultivated to these two crops, corn and soybeans.  And these GMO crops are “Roundup ready”.   The natural world isn’t Round up Ready.  Are we?

Native milkweeds, the host plant for monarch caterpillars are disappearing with every acre planted in corn and soybeans.  Along with monarch habitat, we are losing the habitat for other pollinators including our native bees.  The web of life is indeed complex and perhaps the fate of a butterfly is tied to the fate of humankind.   A healthy earth supports health for all creatures.

So plant native milkweeds in the garden, backyard, farm.  Reduce or eliminate insecticides from gardening practices.  People from Canada, USA, and Mexico are working together to create migration corridors for the monarchs.  Hopeful work.  To quote Wendell Berry, they are indeed “practicing resurrection”.