- Read the short section “Migration Mystery” in our article “Monarch Migration Mystery.” According to experts, more than half a billion monarchs spend their winter in Central Mexico. How can the monarch butterfly be in “grave danger,” as the Nat Geo News article says, with that kind of population?
- Monarch migration, not the butterflies themselves, are threatened. “The monarch butterfly as a species is not endangered. What is endangered is its migratory phenomenon from Canada to Mexico and back,” explains Omar Vidal, director general of WWF-Mexico, in the Nat Geo News article.
- What are the chief reasons monarch migration is threatened, according to the Nat Geo News article?
- Loss of habitat, including deforestation and destruction of the butterfly’s most important food source, milkweed.
- Severe weather, including storms and droughts.
- Milkweed, the plant on which monarchs rely, is a pest to farmers. As its name implies, milkweed is a weed, diverting important nutrients from crops such as corn and soy when it grows in a field. Farmers are not going to sacrifice their livelihoods to preserve monarch migration routes, so what can be done to help the butterflies? (The Nat Geo News article gives you a few suggestions.)
- Urban planners can plant milkweed in unused areas, such as vacant lots, medians, and roadsides.
- Gardeners can plant milkweed in their home gardens.
- Classrooms can get involved in monarch-related citizen science projects. Check out these opportunities:
- Check in with the good folks at the North American Butterfly Association. They have good ideas, and lots of programs.