The Palisade post has partnered with Resilient, a locally founded environmental nonprofit Palisades to deliver a weekly âgreen tipâ to our readers.
Perhaps one of the most iconic butterflies in North America, certainly on the West Coast, is the monarch butterfly. Almost every Californian remembers stopping dead to watch one of these majestic orange and black butterflies pass by.
Today, the monarch butterfly is on the verge of extinction. The wintering population of the Western Monarch in California has fallen to 2,000 individuals this year, a dramatic decrease from 29,000 and 27,000 in the past two years and less than 0.01% of their population in the 1980s. , according to the Xerces Society.
There are two distinct populations of monarchs, western and eastern, defined by the side of the Rocky Mountains where they are found. Every winter, the western population migrates from the Pacific Northwest to California, returning to the same places and even the exact same trees where they huddle in droves for warmth. Along the way, they lay eggs on milkweed species and feed on native plants that provide them with nectar.
The two main factors behind their decline are the loss of milkweed along their migratory routes due to urbanization and overuse of herbicides and pesticides in backyard gardens.
To give these iconic butterflies a fighting chance this coming year:
Stop using all chemical-based pesticides and herbicides. Unless they are 100% vegetable, for example neem oil, these sprays are too toxic for pollinators.
Avoid buying outdoor plants whose seeds have been treated with Roundup or something similar, as they last the life of the plant, including transfer through the nectar.
Whether you have a patio or garden, a pot, or plant native milkweeds (so they bloom at the right time and help the monarchs migrate as they should) and other native plants to provide nectar for adult monarchs, eg. milkweed Asclepias fascicularis with black sage or goldenrod. (Rule of thumb when buying milkweed: Avoid the orange and yellow varieties – our native species are white or pink.)
Visit xerces.org and nwf.org to learn more about planting
monarchs and more.
For more information on Resilient Palisades, including upcoming events, visit resiliencepalisades.org.