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Save the Monarch 

Plant a Monarch Migration Station 

The number of monarch butterflies at winter breeding grounds in Mexico is down once again, according to butterfly tracker Craig Wilson, a senior research associate at Texas A & M University.

Late winter storms toppled trees and severely damaged the habitat, which, coupled with cold and wet weather, was “enough to kill many millions” of the colorful creatures, he said. The devastation left around 78 million monarchs in Mexico's breeding grounds, down from 100 million a year before.

The figures illustrate the striking decline in the migrating butterflies' population in past two decades. Today, monarchs number less than one-tenth of their population in 1996, when scientists estimated a whopping 1 billion of the insects, Wilson said.

A plentiful supply of milkweed is needed in the U.S. for the monarch’s long-term survival, and state and local officials are urging the public to get involved, Wilson said.

Weather, illegal deforestation, wildfires, and the necessary host plant, Asclepias, taking a beating from pesticides applications to the land, took a dangerous toll on the only migratory butterfly species. What can we do?  Plant Asclepias (Butterfly Weed) along with other host and nectar plants.  Scroll below and you will find the butterfly life-cycle so that you can recognize the monarch butterfly at every stage of it's life.

  Tell your friends and neighbors, community leaders, restaurant and gas station owners to plant a Monarch Waystation and help save the monarch.   

Over 15,000 people (as of 12/30/16) have certified Monarch Waystations  - that is not enough people participating for this great big world we live in. 

Join the movement today and like Ghandi says,

"Be the Change you wish to see in this World."

Learn more about the Monarch Butterfly Conservation or sign up to be a certified Waystation at: 

MONARCH WATCH.ORG

Asclepias tuberosa (Butterfly Weed) above, is a native flowering host perennial that is essential to the migration and existence of the monarchs.  It is the Perennial Plant of the Year for 2017.

Monarch caterpillar on the seed pods of Asclepias incarnata (Swamp Milkweed)

Asclepias verticillata above

Monarch Butterfly feeding on Tithonia grown from seed.  Tithonia is a fast growing nectar-source annual that gets three to four feet high and is a non-stop bloomer from late summer to fall. 

Annuals in containers make great instant butterfly gardens

Ageratum, Cosmos, Dill, Garlic Chives, Globe Amaranth, Heliotrope, Lantana, Marigolds, Oregano, Petunias, Primrose African Daisy, Salvia, Tithonia, Verbena, Zinnias,

Monarch Butterfly Life Cycle

Recognizing the Monarch Butterfly at each of their different life cycles is the first step to being able to help preserve and protect the species. Monarchs go through four stages egg, larvae (caterpillar), pupa (chrysalis), and adult butterfly during one life cycle, and through four generations in one year.

 

Monarch butterflies only lay their eggs on Asclepias (milkweed.) It takes four days for the eggs to hatch. The larvae stage is the caterpillar. The yellow, black and white striped caterpillar only eats milkweed. After about two weeks, the caterpillar attaches itself to a stem or leaf using silk and transforms into a chrysalis for ten days and then emerges into a butterfly. The monarch butterfly will emerge from the pupa and fly away, feeding on flowers and just enjoying the short life it has left, which is only about two to six weeks. This first generation monarch butterfly will then die after laying eggs for generation number two.

After about two weeks, the caterpillar attaches itself to a stem or leaf using silk and transforms into a chrysalis for ten days (above picture)...

...and then emerges into a butterfly.

 Butterfly Facts

Adult butterflies are attracted to red, yellow, orange, pink and purple blossoms that are flat topped or clustered and have short flower tubes.

  • Find a sheltered area and plant for continuous bloom - Butterflies need nectar throughout the adult span of their life.
  • Avoid herbicides and pesticides that will kill butterflies and other beneficial insects in both their adult and larval phases.
  • Butterflies need sun for orientation and to warm their wings for flight. Place flat stones in your garden to provide space for butterflies to rest and bask in the sun.

  • Give them a place for puddling (above) - butterflies like wet sand and mud to partake in “puddling”, drinking water and extracting minerals from damp puddles. Place coarse sand in a shallow pan and then insert the pan in the soil of your habitat. Make sure to keep the sand moist.

  Update Your Plantings To Be More Sustainable

 This is the planting (above) before it became more pollinator-friendly

 

 Now it is a Monarch Waystation!.

Butterflies, bees, and other pollinators need protection from adverse weather and predators along with a place to rear their young.  Butterfly shelters are placed near nectar-rich plants 3 to 4 feet off the ground.  Place your shelter among  plants such as asters, rudbeckia, coreopsis, and purple coneflower. Log piles are more effective; 4 to 5 logs, 6 inches in diameter, 4 to 5 feet long installed side by side separated by only a few inches.  Place another layer of logs across this base to act as cover or a roof top.

 

 

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