Some very sad news has crossed the world this past Thursday, July 21st, as our beloved Monarch butterflies are officially on the “Red List”. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) added the Monarch butterfly to their endangered species list, as numbers have plummeted in the past few decades. Climate change has significantly impacted these insects as unusual and severe heat waves discourage their host and nectar plants to grow, as well as stopping the butterflies from being able to make their long journey without being exposed to heat exhaustion.
Millions of Monarch butterflies fly from their winter in South America to North America to spend their spring and summer eating, mating, and laying eggs every year. New butterflies then come back to South America in the fall to hibernate, and the cycle starts all over again. Monarch butterflies can fly thousands of miles to make this journey every year for their survival, all the way from the edge of Canada to central Mexico.
Although the news is devastating to us pollinator enthusiasts, there are things that we can do to help the Monarch butterflies keep their population numbers up and avoid extinction:
- Plant A Pollinator Garden -
Add in plants that help your local pollinators, especially Monarch butterflies, like their favorite host and nectar plant, milkweed. See our handout below for other great pollinator plants to add to your garden for butterflies and other pollinators.
- Add Some Protection -
Butterflies can be drastically affected by heavy storms and severe heat. Place a butterfly house in your garden, near your pollinator plants, to give them an option, if the weather is not optimal.
- Pollinator Watering Station -
Create your own DIY pollinator watering station with a bird bath or even a ceramic tray. Fill the tray, or bath, with large rocks for the butterflies to land on, and fill with clean water. Then, place it in a protected area, in your pollinator garden, to avoid predators. Having a watering station for your local pollinators can help them survive through the summer heat.
PRO-TIP: Add in a water feature like a mini fountain or a bubbler to your DIY watering station. Moving water lets the butterflies know that it is fresh water they are drinking.
- Support Monarch Conservation Efforts -
Reach out to support your local pollinator conservators through funding and/or volunteering and keep spreading the word about Monarch butterflies and their well-being through social media.
“From planting native milkweed and reducing pesticide use to supporting the protection of overwintering sites and contributing to community science, we all have a role to play in making sure this iconic insect makes a full recovery,” - Anna Walker, member of the IUCN SSC Butterfly and Moth Specialist Group and Species Survival Officer at the New Mexico BioPark Society, who led the monarch butterfly assessment from IUCN.
We know that with enough enthusiasm and effort, we can make a difference for our local pollinator pals! See our pollinator blogs for more information and check out the Garden Guru and his webinars with new plants, products, and expert planting advice. To keep inspired and grow with us, follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok to dig into the joys of gardening!