By: Bradley Jager
The Monarch, king of all butterflies, has fluttered right into the hearts of many Americans. Sadly they may be gone within our lifetime if drastic steps aren’t taken. The most recent count by Frontiers suggests a devastating 99% population loss over the past 20 years.
Why is the Monarch dying off?
There are a few contributing factors as to why the Monarch population is rapidly declining. One of the main issues is the loss of habitat. The Monarch’s host plant is milkweed, the only plant they can successfully lay their eggs on. According to Eureka Alert, milkweed is being eradicated by the use of herbicides and roadside mowing.
What can be done?
Many people have been striving to save the Monarchs, take Lauren Jager for example. She has partnered with the Cincinnati Botanical Gardens to register her garden as a pollinator-friendly garden. This year she created a Monarch habitat, with over 100 milkweed plants.
For the past month, she collected monarch caterpillars that she found on the milkweed and kept them in a butterfly-safe enclosure. Within a few weeks, she had 40 monarch caterpillars which she will be releasing into the wild next week.
Practical things you can do to help save the monarchs:
Offer a water source
Don’t use pesticides or herbicides in your yard or garden
Special thanks to Lauren Jager for providing the photos & her expertise