The challenges faced by the Monarch are the “decline and disturbance of the over wintering sites in Mexico and the widespread use of pesticides and herbicides in Ontario”. There is no formal protection for the Monarch in Ontario however three key areas have been identified to protect this species. Milkweed, the larval food plant needs to be taken off of the noxious weed list. This is a plant necessary and vital to the life cycle of the Monarch. Native wildflower habitat needs to be protected and encouraged for this and many other species (such as our honey bees) and lastly, migration stopover sites need to be protected from logging and disturbance. WWF is presently collaborating with a multitude of partners to incorporate approaches to protect and restore the Monarch’s wintering habitat.
Of all the migrations by small creatures in the world, few are as astounding as that achieved by the Monarch Butterfly. These tiny, light weight, winged flyers of orange travel around 4,500 kilometers between their starting and end points. What is even more fascinating is that they have never flown this route before. These are the great-great-great-grandchildren of Monarchs which migrated back from Mexico the previous spring. Wow! They are guided to wintering grounds by the sun’s orbit and their own internal biological compass.
Each adult butterfly lives about four to five weeks. During the summer however the Monarchs give birth to a unique “Methuselah generation”. This unique generation of Monarchs will live for seven to eight months and it is this generation of butterflies who are created to make the arduous journey of flying from Canada and the United States to their wintering habitat in Mexico.
So what can we do to help? Preserve native wildflower patches in and around your schools, properties, cities and counties. Consider planting a native wildflower garden for the benefit of our beautiful bees and butterflies. Think about including some milkweed specifically for the Monarch caterpillar. Lastly, please consider, just saying “no” to using any product which ends in the letters “cide”.
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