Many of you may be aware of the plight of the monarch butterfly. This iconic species is struggling to maintain and grow its population.
Each year surveys are conducted in the mountains above Mexico City to determine how many monarchs made the migration successfully. Last year’s early fall count showed an increase from previous years, but a late winter storm seems to have wiped out the increase, and the butterflies were not able to recover last year.
There are many theories as to why monarchs are struggling, from changing weather patterns to land use in the upper Midwest. In the upper Midwest, where most monarchs migrate on their way north, the amount of land under cropping has increased. With the use of GMO Roundup Ready crops, there is evidence that the amount of milkweed available to monarchs for egg laying and larval development has dropped. It is also important to have flowering plants available in the fall, so migrating monarchs can feed as they travel south.
In both the spring migration north and the fall migration south, Texas and Oklahoma are critical since they are in the “funnel” corridor. It is up to us to help the monarch’s population by planting and restoring habitat as well as protection existing habitat. Doing so also benefits other native pollinators.
The Kerr Center has several publications available on native pollinator habitat. One of our newest publications lists all species of milkweed native to Oklahoma. By doing your part to plant milkweeds for larva and flowering plants for the adult monarchs to feed on, you can add some much needed habitat. Help us save the monarch!